Gems unfazed by tough draw
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.