Cape Town – The 2019 Africa Netball Cup started like a house on fire with the host South Africa taking on their SADC neighbour Lesotho in the opening game of the tournament. With Tanzania pulling out of the tournament at the 11th hour, Africa Netball had to scramble at the last minute and change the fixtures.
South Africa who have a new coaching duo in Dorette Badenhorst and Dumisani Chauke, started like a team with one intention in mind which was to win their opening game. One could get this sense from how they approached the game. The coaches went with the tried and tested combinations when they took to onto court.
One player who made a return to the team was Precious Mthembu at Goal Defence (GD), her combinations with Monique (Reynecke) proved to work like a well-oiled machine, she was able to intercept majority of the Lesotho passes and instantly converting them into attack. The first match of the day ended with South Africa thrashing Lesotho 116 -10.
The second match of the day saw Kenya take on Zambia. This game started off tightly contested with both teams really taking a go at each other. Both teams threw everything at each other and contested for every ball especially within the first two quarters of the game. At the ultimate end it was Zambia who finished the game victorious, winning the game 56 -29.
At the end of the second game, there was the opening ceremony which was held to officially declare the event open. The ceremony was attended by dignitaries from the City of Cape Town led by Honourable JP Smith, Netball South Legends, members of the media and netball fans in general with 2018 SA Idols winner Yanga Sobetwa providing entertainment to the crowds.
The clash which was dubbed the match of the day saw South Africa taking to the court for the second time in a day when they played against Malawi. This mouth-watering affair was everything it was dubbed to be. Both teams got off the mark very quickly with both wanting to take and maintain the lead as early possible. It was the SPAR Proteas that went to the break leading the first quarter 16 -11.
Malawi got back from the break and played like a team possessed and took the game to South Africa. They converted their two chances as quickly as they possibly could. Coach Dorette introduced Precious Mthembu at the start of the second quarter in the place of Monique Reynecke and moved her to the wing defence role. The defensive pairing of Zanele Vimbela and Shadine van der Merwe seems to be yielding positive results as they kept Jane Chimaliro and Joyce Mvula at bay for better part of the second quarter.
Lenize Potgieter and Renske Stolz also worked wonders in South Africa’s attack as they converted majority of their chance and extending their lead at the front. Both teams managed to convert 11 chances each respectively with the Proteas taking the lead 27 -22 at the end of the second quarter.
At the end of what seemed like an intense quarter, it was South Africa that had a seven point lead taking the game 42 against Malawa’s 35. Both teams charged at each other as soon as the last quarter started with South Africa wanting to extend their lead and Malawi wanting to close the gap.
It was Malawi who really pushed South Africa and at some point towards the end of the game reduced South Africa’s lead to three points. South Africa put up a good fight and managed to win what was a physical match 56 -51.
Day two fixtures:
10:00 Lesotho vs Kenya
12:00 South Africa vs Zimbabwe
14:00 Uganda vs Zambia
16:00 Kenya vs Malawi