Ellina Mhlanga in Liverpool, England
ZIMBABWE’s hopes of making a top six-finish at the Vitality Netball World Cup ended yesterday when they lost to Jamaica 77-47 in a play-off match at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool.
The Gems came into the game as the underdogs, facing one of the world’s top teams with Jamaica ranked second, in a match to determine the team to progress to play for fifth and sixth place tomorrow.
The Zimbabweans made a few passing errors, losing possession of the ball in attack.
And, coupled by some interceptions by opponents, the first stanza ended 23-15 in favour of Jamaica.
Coach Lloyd Makunde brought in goal attack Sharon Bwanali for Ursula Ndlovu before the end of the first quarter to partner Pauline Jani as they fought to keep up with Jamaica.
However, Zimbabwe struggled in the second quarter managing only nine goals and failed to restrict their opponents who scored 24 goals to stretch their lead to 23 goals.
Makunde made three changes at half-time and Joice Takaidza came in for Jani while Sharleen Makusha was brought in for Rudo Karume to try and contain Jamaica at the start of the third quarter. And the young goal keeper’s introduction was effective in defence.
Adelaide Muskwe was handed her second game at the tournament, playing wing defence after she came in for Claris Kwaramba.
The Gems put up a good fight in the third quarter and they managed 14 goals against Jamaica’s 12 in this quarter. But the damage had already been done and Jamaica held on to the lead to beat Zimbabwe.
Makusha said it was an amazing experience playing one of the highly-ranked teams.
“This game was tough but we kept on fighting. But, I was happy playing against Jamaica, rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s best, it was something else.
‘’I am grateful for the opportunity.
“I have learnt that I have to keep working hard and during these games there are some people watching, so I have to do my best and showcase my skills.
‘’You never know, I might get a better team to play for,” said Makusha.
Jamaica coach Marvette Anderson said it was a good game and believes Zimbabwe have a bright future.
“I am proud of Zimbabwe, her first World Cup and they are at this point. I think they did well.
‘’I think today we executed our game.’’
Zimbabwe will now take on the loser between Malawi and Uganda in the seventh and eighth position play-off match tomorrow.
Malawi and Uganda were set to meet after the Zimbabwe and Jamaica game yesterday.
Zimbabwe: Pauline Jani, Ursula Ndlovu, Ndaizivei Madzikangava, Claris Kwaramba, Felistus Kwangwa, Rudo Karume.
Subs: Sharon Bwanali, Sharleen Makusha, Adelaide Maskwe, Perpetua Siyachitema, Joice Takaidza.
Jamaica: Jhaniele Fowler, Shanice Beckford, Nicole Dixon, Adean Thomas, Vangelle Williams, Jodiann Ward, Kadie-ann Dehaney.
Subs: Romelda Aiken, Stacian Facey, Rebekah Robinson, Shamera Sterling, Khadijah Williams.