Ellina Mhlanga, Harare Bureau
AS the Vitality Netball World Cup draws closer, Zimbabwe’s Gems have gone a step up in their build-up to the showpiece to be staged in Liverpool, England, next month with coach Lloyd Makunde convinced they are on course.
Zimbabwe will be making their debut appearance at the world stage and are eager to leave a mark at the 16-team tournament to take place from July 12 to 21.
The senior national team’s coach Lloyd Makunde said there is a lot of competition in camp with each player hoping to make the final team to be named soon.
“They are doing well, better than any other time. As the days are coming closer, all the girls are eager to be in the team, so you can imagine the competition when the days are closer to actually naming our first 12. So the competition is very high,” said Makunde.
Makunde said their main concern at the moment is their defence but are optimistic by the time they leave for Liverpool, they will be in a good position to stand their own ground.
“We are working on our gym sessions, aerobic sessions and on court we are trying to be better than what we used to be. We are earmarking our defence, mainly our defence we want to be so aggressive on defence.
“So we are working flat-out so that we can be more defensive, you can only win the game of netball by defending. So the technical team is putting up everything we have to the girls,” said Makunde.
Makunde said having a larger group in camp has created a competitive environment with all the players fighting for places in the final team.
Captain Perpetua Siyachitema was in agreement with the coach as she said there is tight competition in camp.
“We are still waiting for the final 12 and I think it’s still really helping us because everyone is wondering whether they are going to make it. So it’s making everyone give their best. The competition is very high, trust me because everyone wants to make it into the final 12. I think the preparations are going on well, especially after playing the two friendly matches against South Africa and Uganda. I think we have managed to work on our weaknesses and the coaches have seen our strength. They now know where they need to work on and how best they can maybe push the team,” said Siyachitema.
Zimbabwe get their campaign underway against Sri Lanka on July 12 in Group A. They clash with Australia the following day before facing Northern Ireland on July 14 in their final group game.
The Gems will be hoping to go beyond the first stage.