The Zimbabwe national netball team started their World Cup qualifiers on a high, with a 49-41 win over Botswana in match played at the at University of Pretoria, in South Africa.

The tournament started on Sunday and will run until August 27.

Zimbabwe fought hard from the first quarter up to the final whistle to secure a win.

The first quarter ended 13-8 in favour of Zimbabwe, and they maintained the lead throughout, but Botswana kept Zimbabwe on their toes.

The second quarter ended 22-20 as Botswana fought to close the gap.

It was the third quarter that proved pivotal for the Gems as they substituted Australian-based goal-shooter Joice Takaidza with Sharon Bwanali who showed great movement and shooting accuracy.

The Gems managed to create a healthy gap as the quarter ended 37-31 in their favour.

Botswana failed to close the gap, as Zimbabwe sealed their first victory at the tournament with a 49-41 win.

The Gems goal-attacker Tafadzwa Matura was named player of the match.

Assistant coach Tatenda Wisdom Shinya was happy with the first win and hopes they would build the momentum in order to book their second ticket for the Netball World Cup next year in Cape Town, South Africa.

“We were working on the rebuilding exercise and our main goal is to qualify for the World Cup, we can’t afford to lose this tournament because we really want to perform in the upcoming World Cup,” said Shinya.

“We played very well. I’m happy with the players, they demonstrated what we taught them at training. We are so proud that we managed to win, there is no bad win and for a start this is very important for us. We are going to work now for the next game.”

He also was complimentary of Bwanali’s showing when she came into the side after halftime with just a two-point margin.

“Our goal circle was lacking movement, so the coming in of Bwanali was a good move for us. Her shooting accuracy was perfect today (yesterday). We are happy that she stood up for us and made us win,” he said.

“After Botswana played South Africa on Sunday, we observed that they played too many passes in the attacking third so we worked more on the midcourt so that we avoid them passing directly to the goal-attack who is their main shooter. We just wanted to congest the goal attack so that she would not score from a longer distance and it worked to our advantage today (yesterday).”

Zimbabwe still has a long way to go as they have to finish in the top two in their pool in order to progress to the semifinal which will be played on Friday.

Today, Zimbabwe will clash against Namibia at 12pm in their second match.

Source Newsday