WINDHOEK – Namibia’s senior netball team, the Desert Jewels, yesterday kicked off their Africa Netball World Cup qualifiers campaign on a gloomy note when they suffered a 72-47 defeat at the hands of the ruthless Ugandan “She-Cranes” as they are popularly known, during their opening match.
The Africa Netball World Cup qualifiers, which are underway in Lusaka, Zambia, serves as Africa’s qualification tournament to next year’s Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England, which will mark the 15th edition of the quadrennial global netball showpiece.
Yesterday’s match proved to be a serious acid test for Namibia, as the Desert Jewels struggled to keep up with the pace, strength and tenacity of the East Africans, who finished the first quarter with a comfortable 23-12 lead, which turned into a 40-24 lead at halftime.
Playing their highly venomous traditional quick short passing game, Uganda further stretched their lead to 37-57 in the third quarter before wrapping up the somewhat one-way contest with a 72-47 scoreline in favour of the She Cranes.
Today, the Namibian girls will face another East African country Kenya tomorrow, in what is anticipated to be another challenging assignment for the Namibians, who are eager to record their first win at the tournament.
On Thursday, 16 August, the Desert Jewels will take to the court to confront Zimbabwe for their third clash of the qualifiers. Namibia will then proceed to face a stern test against dangerous Malawi on August 17, before concluding their campaign with a clash against neighbours Botswana on August 18.
Sixteen teams will contest next year’s World Cup, with five countries having already automatically qualified by virtue of their high ranking position in the International Netball Federation (INF) World Rankings, with the exception of England who qualify as the host nation.
The remaining ten teams will qualify via regional qualification tournaments, such as next month’s Africa Netball World Cup qualifiers, with two teams selected from each of the five international netball regions – Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania – securing their place in Liverpool.
The five teams (six if England is included) that qualified automatically are Australia, England, New Zealand, Jamaica, South Africa and Malawi.
Namibia Starting VII vs Uganda yesterday: Bitler Selma, Anna Kasper, Vendi Katjaimo, Cherlyn Muesee, Imbileni Shuweninawa, Tjejamba Diana and Zauana Jaumbuaijie.