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Gems shift focus to Africa Championships

The Gems

Gems shift focus to Africa Championships

AFTER securing a bronze medal in the Debmarine Pent Series, the Zimbabwe senior netball team is targeting more victories at the African Championships and earn points to keep them among the world’s top 12-ranked nations.

The African Championships start tomorrow and end on Tuesday next week in Windhoek, Namibia.

The Debmarine Pent Series, which were a dress rehearsal of the African Championships, were also held in Windhoek.

The Gems finished third in the five-day tournament that ended on Friday after winning twice, drawing once and losing two matches.

They lost 38-56 to Malawi in the opening game and 40-79 to competition winners Uganda.

Zimbabwe beat Kenya 56-46, collected maximum points in a 57-36 victory over hosts Namibia and drew 52-all with Zambia on the last day of the competition.

Leticia Chipandu, Zimbabwe Netball Association (ZINA) president, said the Gems picked valuable experience during the Pent Series and is confident that they will have a great show in the African Championships.

“I’m happy to say that the games we won are going to go a long way in improving our world ranking. At the moment we are at Number 12. We want to believe that once we go through the eight games, we are going to play at the Africa Championships, it will leave us in a better position on the World rankings.

“Ranking in the world is important to us because we already have players playing overseas because of the rankings.

For you to have players playing overseas, you have to be in the top 12. If Zimbabwe falls below 12th position it’s going to jeopardise the career of our girls playing overseas,” said Chipandu.

Surrey Storm defender Felistus Kwangwa leads the new-look Gems’ squad that retained five players from the team that represented the country at the 2019 World Cup in England.

Mid court players, Patricia Mauladi and vice-captain, Claris Kwaramba together with shooters; Ursula Ndlovu and Sharon Bwanali are the other four seniors that featured in the World Cup in Liverpool.

Chipandu said the new Gems’ players have managed to adapt to the set-up.

“Basically, my observations have been that we were not very much prepared in terms of camping and training for a long period before coming to the tournament and perhaps travelling was tiring to the girls. I’m happy that the young team we carried with us had more energy.

“Judging from the score lines, we can see that we didn’t do badly at all.

The experience the girls earned will carry the day for us during the Africa Championships. Most of the girls were appearing for the first time and the Pent Series has given them confidence.

I want to say they’ll want to retain their jerseys. So, it’s going to be a tough competition to maintain their jerseys,” said Chipandu.

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