Young Gems miss out

24 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
Young Gems miss out

The Sunday Mail

Veronica Gwaze

IT took up to the last minute of a nail-biting hour of action against perennial rivals Zambia for Zimbabwe’s Under-21 side to give up the “precious’’ 2025 Netball World Youth Cup (NWYC) ticket.

The Young Gems gave it their all but still came short with a heartbreaking 43-41 defeat, ending their qualification hopes in Tshwane, South Africa, yesterday.

Zambia went on to grab one of the three available NWYC slots after the other two were automatically taken by hosts South Africa and Malawi, who had made it into the final.

In yesterday’s encounter, Zambia gave Zimbabwe a good run for their money in what was a tightly contested match from the onset. Zambia raced into a 9-8 lead at the first quarter break.

After the breather, the Young Gems maintained their momentum in what became an edgy affair, with the lead constantly changing hands.

The slightest of mistakes also ensured this match would be decided by small margins.

Zimbabwe’s defence was on high alert, ensuring that they restricted the opponents from getting accurate passes to their agile shooters.

The Young Gems were the ones who this time took a narrow 19-18 lead.

However, the rivals would not go down without a fight — they proved strong, firing a series of warning shots to the Zimbabweans as they levelled the scoreline before creating a two-goal margin which they maintained to the last minute.

Despite the defeat, Zimbabwe coach Tapiwa Chirenda applauded his team for showing character.

“It was a high-pressure game but my girls did not let all that get to them.

“They showed resilience and mental endurance although we could not hold it to the very end,” he said.

“Our play is not far from theirs (Zambia), so we needed to find an extra edge that we would capitalise on to make it past them.

“We had to play mind games, sell them a dummy and mislead them at some stages of the game and then quickly revert to our usual game.”

Having met the Zambians in the preliminary stages, Chirenda knew a repeat clash was never going to be easy for them.

“We played Zambia in the first round, so we knew what they are capable of doing. Likewise, they knew about us, so the plan was simply to confuse them and put them into disarray.  You do not use the same strategy on the same enemy.

“To give our girls the confidence to deviate from our usual play a bit, we had to talk about it.

“It worked well, although they could not keep up in some instances and we were punished for that.”

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