Women’s U20 handball team raise Zim flag

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here - Sports Re­porter

THE Zim­babwe women’s Un­der-20 handball team hoisted the coun­try's flag high when they beat Malawi 26-15 in a third-place play-off match to win a bronze medal at the bi-an­nual In­ter­na­tional Handball Fed­er­a­tion Zone VI tour­na­ment which ended in Jo­han­nes­burg, South Africa, yes­ter­day.

Af­ter the men’s team had crashed out of the tour­na­ment in the group stages of the com­pe­ti­tion, all the bur­den to win a medal at the games was laid on the girl child.

But with the team los­ing to Zam­bia in the semi­fi­nals, there was a real dan­ger that the coun­try would leave South Africa empty-handed.

How­ever, the Cle­mence Tauro-coached side turned on the power to dis­man­tle Malawi who had man­aged to ab­sorb much of the heat dur­ing the early stages of the game with cap­tain Melissa Makuwe top scor­ing for Zim­babwe with eight goals while Christa­bel Mazharira, who bossed around the court, made sure her team al­ways had an up­per hand.

But it was goal­keeper Sikhulek­ile Ncube who played a blin­der thwart­ing the Malaw­ians who al­ways threat­ened with their deadly pivot Ly­ness Chilenga lead­ing with a foray of at­tacks on the Zim­bab­wean goal area.

The Zim­babwe women's team's as­sis­tant coach Cleopa­tra Mareverwa saluted her side’s fight­ing spirit and said with some bet­ter prepa­ra­tions they could have done even bet­ter.

“The play­ers gave a good ac­count of them­selves, they played to in­struc­tions.

“They have made us proud. Malawi were def­i­nitely one of the best teams at the tour­na­ment and only a good team would beat them.

“The match was so tough but I am happy the play­ers rose to the oc­ca­sion. They played as a team and that is what you get when you co­or­di­nate well on the court,” said Mareverwa.

The Zim­bab­weans had pro­gressed from a tough group which had South Africa, Botswana and Mozam­bique as run­ners-up to the lat­ter.

They, how­ever, found the go­ing tough in the semi-fi­nals where they fell to Zam­bia.

Handball Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Of­fi­cer, Daniel Mtandwa, said the teams played well and they will try to bet­ter their per­for­mance in the next edi­tion of the games to be played in a yet-to-be an­nounced venue.

“I think both teams played well. The men’s team were un­lucky to be thrown in a group which com­prised heavy­weights Zam­bia and Mozam­bique.

“The women’s team have ob­vi­ously done us proud by win­ning a bronze medal. With some bet­ter prepa­ra­tions I think we could have done bet­ter,” said Mtandwa.

Two Zim­bab­wean ref­er­ees, Bekezela Ncube and Tino­tenda Machakaire presided over the men’s fi­nals which pit­ted even­tual win­ners Mozam­bique against Zam­bia.

A to­tal of eight teams from across the re­gion par­tic­i­pated at the tour­na­ment and they are Zam­bia, Le­sotho, Swazi­land, Mozam­bique, Zim­babwe, Malawi, Botswana and the hosts South Africa.

Mozam­bique won gold in both the men’s and women’s cat­e­gories dump­ing sil­ver for Zam­bia in both in­stances.

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