Gems un­fazed by tough draw

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - SPORT - Veron­ica Gwaze

ZIM­BABWE have been drawn in the same 2019 World Cup group as 11 time cham­pi­ons Aus­tralia but Gems coach Lloyd Makunde is not shak­ing in his boots.

In­stead, the na­tional net­ball team gaffer is count­ing his bless­ings af­ter be­ing drawn against Sri Lanka and North­ern Ire­land for a World Cup that will be played in Eng­land in July next year.

“The draw is a good one for us be­cause it will see us com­ing up against op­po­nents whom we al­ready have some in­for­ma­tion on. We are not fac­ing some un­known quan­ti­ties,” said Makunde.

“The trick now is to come up with a game plan for each of our op­po­nents and start work­ing on them,

“Aus­tralia does not have tall play­ers and that should work to our ad­van­tage. When we play against them, we sim­ply have to play to our ad­van­tage and add a bit of speed to our game.”

And what’s the plan for North­ern Ire­land who will be mak­ing a 15th ap­pear­ance at the global com­pe­ti­tion?

“I have stud­ied their play and don’t view them as a chal­lenge,” added Makunde.

“But we don’t have to be com­pla­cent against them, we have to im­pose our­selves on them, in­tim­i­date them even, and pounce.”

North­ern Ire­land have highly rated goal­keeper Gemma Gib­ney in their ranks but Makunde has faith in his sharp shoot­ers Pauline Jani and Sharon Bwanali.

“Al­though they have a strong and com­posed goal­keeper, we are bank­ing on our ex­pe­ri­enced and tall goal shoot­ers. All they need is a con­stant sup­ply from our highly mo­bile mid­field,” he said.

Mean­while, the Zim­bab­wean coach reck­ons that the key to beat­ing Sri Lanka is in cut­ting sup­ply line to the Asians’ 1, 93 me­ter tall goal shooter Sethukavalar Elilen­thini.

Ranked 25th in the world, the Ti­laka Ji­nadasa coached Sri Lanka side will be ap­pear­ing at the global show­piece for the 15th time but again, Makunde is un­fazed.

“Ev­ery­thing for Sri Lanka has to go through Elilen­thini and be­cause she is very tall, the only way we can sur­vive is by tight­en­ing our mid­field and cut­ting her sup­ply,” said the Gems coach. Zim­babwe will use the Di­a­mond Cup, set for South Africa in Novem­ber, and the African Cham­pi­onships, to be hosted in Harare early next year, to fine tune for the World Cup.

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