The Sunday Mail
Ellina Mhlanga in Liverpool, England
ZIMBABWE assistant coach Ropafadzo Mutsauki says they are content with the progress they have made so far on their Vitality Netball World Cup debut in Liverpool.
The Gems, surprise packages at the global showpiece, face Uganda this morning in the seventh and eighth placing match at the M&S Bank Arena as the tournament reaches its climax today.
When Zimbabwe’s Gems arrived on these shores, their initial target was to secure a top eight finish given that it was their maiden appearance at the Netball World Cup.
They go into today’s match guaranteed that they will finish eighth at the very least.
If they beat Uganda, who came into this tournament ranked sixth, they can go on to settle for a seventh place finish.
“So far the approach we have taken for this tournament has been excellent, we have had a good experience as team Zimbabwe.
“Going into this game, we have no pressure but Uganda is under pressure because of their position on the rankings. So we are going to make their life difficult and I think we have a good chance to win.
“lt’s a very important game to us because it’s a bonus for us. We have got what we wanted, a top eight finish, but we can still finish seventh,” said Mutsauki.
Zimbabwe played some of the top ranked teams here, including Australia, Jamaica and New Zealand.
Although they lost during encounters against these teams, Mutsauki praised the Gems for putting up a good fight in all the matches.
“We are hoping that when we go back home we would have improved more. We have played against the highly ranked teams, we have played them all.
“This has boosted the players’ confidence. From all the teams we played, we didn’t have any embarrassing scoreline, which is very important. Our standard is not bad,” said Mutsauki.
Going into today’s match, the Gems will have to look out for Uganda’s captain and star shooter Peace Proscovia. Mutsauki said they will make sure their defence is up to the task.
Pauline Jani, who was voted Player of the Match against Jamaica is expecting the Gems to conclude their World Cup debut on a high note.
“I am really delighted that I was voted Player of the Match, although we lost to Jamaica. With my percentage of shooting, I didn’t miss many shots and I was also moving and defending. We played as a team and did our best.
“We are happy with the way we have played and the position we are at now. Just making the top 10 means a lot to us, we have come far. We just need to beat Uganda and make the top seven. We are going to win,” said Jani.
Zimbabwe goal keeper Rudo Karume said a win would be good for the supporters that have been rallying behind the team.
“We have achieved our target, we are in the top eight and this is the first time to be at the World Cup. I want to thank the supporters in Liverpool. Since I started playing netball, I have never seen such passionate supporters.
“They supported the team throughout, which is very encouraging. I promise them that on Sunday (today), we will make them happy,” said Karume.
After Zimbabwe’s match, Jamaica will take to the court to face Malawi for the fifth and sixth placings before the third and fourth play-off match in the afternoon.
The final match is scheduled for later in the day as the curtain comes down on the 16-team tournament tonight.