Gems go out with a whimper
ALWAYS a bridesmaid, never the bride.
That, in a nutshell, has been the case whenever the Zimbabwe senior netball team tries to party against South Africa.
For four years, South Africa’s Spar Proteas have had the Gems’ number and that was the case yet again yesterday as Zimbabwe rounded off the Diamond Challenge with a 73-44 loss to their neighbours.
The loss condemned the Gems to third-place at the week-long tournament at Ngoako Stadium in Polokwane. The Proteas finished first, while Zambia were second.
Gems coach Lloyd Makunde felt his charges should have done better, but said the tourney was good preparation for the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England.
“Coming here, we obviously wanted to win but because it is a game, anything can happen,” said Makunde.
“Losing out on the title, yes, we failed part of our task; but we had enough competition to weigh ourselves as we prepare for the World Cup next year.
“This was the first tournament for the new players and they obviously needed time to gel for we have only been playing against themselves since we began camp.
“But as the tournament progressed, I could see some changes for the good which shows we are in the right direction,” said Makunde.
He added that the Gems needed to work on their speed.
“We thought with the new type of play we adopted, we have the speed but from the encounter against the Proteas there is much work to be done,” said the Gems gaffer.
“They are more experienced and have been to the World Cup before, so they were the right opponents to gauge how far we have come. Both the South African teams presented a huge challenge for us; and we need to go back to the drawing board, focus more on our defence and work on pace.”