Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
IT was a bad day in office for the country’s senior women’s netball team as they suffered their second consecutive defeat at the Spar Diamond Challenge, losing 72-37 to South Africa in a match played at the University of Pretoria’s Rembrandt Hall yesterday.
This was Zimbabwe’s second game at the four- team competition taking place in South Africa’s capital city. The other sides taking part are Scotland and South Africa’s invitational President’s XII.
Before yesterday’s result, the Gems lost 55-50 to South Africa’s invitational President’s XII in their opening encounter on Tuesday.
Yesterday, it was always going to be a tall order for the Gems playing against the World’s fifth best team. Zimbabwe themselves are ranked 13th.
The three previous meetings between the two sides ended in emphatic victories for South Africa. The Proteas won 68-47, 78-27 and 69-39 in the three encounters.
It was no surprise South Africa would take the early initiative leading 20-9 at the end of the first quarter.
By half-time the hosts were leading by 21 goals as the Spar Proteas took control of the game.
The home side increased their lead at the end of the third quarter as they led 55-28.
Zimbabwe will now conclude their pool games with an encounter against Scotland this afternoon.
The Gems are using the competition to prepare for their second appearance at the Netball World Cup tournament in South Africa next year.
Zimbabwe qualified for the global showpiece for the second time after they finished third, behind Malawi and South Africa during the World Cup Africa qualifiers in Pretoria, South Africa.
South Africa had, however, already qualified by being hosts of next year’s global showpiece, which allowed Zimbabwe to sneak in after beating Zambia 59-49 in a bronze medal encounter.
Meanwhile, the Gems will know their World Cup opponents next Tuesday when the draw for the 2023 Netball World Cup takes place in East London, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape.
World Netball on Monday revealed the latest World Netball rankings confirming the seeding for the 16 teams for the Netball World Cup.
The NWC2023 will be held in Cape Town, South Africa from July 28th July to 6th August 2023, with Australia, Barbados, England, Fiji, Jamaica, Malawi, New Zealand, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda, Wales and Zimbabwe all set to compete for the trophy. – @innocentskizoe.