Gems go out with a whim­per

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - SPORT - Veron­ica Gwaze in Polok­wane, South Africa

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.”

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