Women’s U20 handball team raise Zim flag
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.