IT was a bad day on the court for Zimbabwe’s Gems yesterday as they went down to Botswana 47-44 at the ongoing Africa Netball Cup in Windhoek, Namibia.
Zimbabwe, ranked 12th in the world, were just not at their best yesterday as they allowed Botswana, ranked 27th in the world rankings, to take the upper hand from the start of the game.
The first quarter ended with Botswana leading 13-8.
Zimbabwe fought back in the second quarter to reduce the gap and they went into half-time trailing Botswana by just two goals when coach Lloyd Makunde replaced goal shooter Lynnette Tanhira with Sharon Bwanali.
The Gems failed to maintain that momentum and let Botswana go up again.
Although they forced several turnovers on their opponents, Zimbabwe failed to convert most of those turnovers into goals and the third quarter ended 36-29 in favour of Botswana.
This coupled by their failure to keep possession saw them going down to Botswana who were more efficient than Zimbabwe.
This was Zimbabwe’s fourth defeat having lost to South Africa, Malawi and Uganda.
Makunde said after playing Uganda and Zambia on Saturday, fatigue contributed to yesterday’s defeat.
“Firstly, yesterday (Saturday) we played two games. We played Zambia who didn’t play the day before yesterday and I think fatigue caught up with us and we had too many errors as well, so it contributed to the loss.”
Zimbabwe clash with Kenya today in their last game at the tournament that ends tomorrow.
“We need to sit down and revisit our play today, we need to talk to the girls so they are mentally prepared for the game against Kenya tomorrow,” said Makunde.
Captain Felisitus Kwangwa, who left the court in the first quarter due to an injury, had to come back in the last quarter to try and inspire the team.
But it was too late and Botswana just needed to convert their centre pass in the dying minutes of the match to emerge as the winners.
“The captain (Kwangwa) was injured and the medical team advised us after we had submitted the team last night.
“So she had to make an appearance in the first seven and then come out as is the norm.
“She then sacrificed her injury to play the game when the team was down.
“At the moment she is being attended to by the medical team and we will see if she passes the late fitness test tomorrow morning,” said Makunde.
For Botswana, it was their first win since the tournament started last Tuesday.
Zimbabwe Netball Association president, Letitia Chipandu, could not hide her disappointment from yesterday’s defeat.
“This has been the most embarrassing defeat in a lifetime. I really don’t know what happened but it looks like the girls got into the pitch with so much complacency.
“I know we can lose games but we cannot lose a game to Botswana.
“This was an embarrassing defeat and it’s done and it’s going to cost our world ranking because when you lose to a team that is lower ranked than you, you lose points.
“I don’t know why this kind of attitude after having fought for so long, giving it all they can and they just decide not to fight as hard as they normally would with actually bigger teams,” said Chipandu.