Foreign-based Gems coming

Felistus Kwangwa

AS the Vitality Netball World Cup 2023 gets closer, Zimbabwe senior national netball team coach Ropafadzo Mutsauki said they are looking forward to foreign-based players joining camp soon.

The event gets underway on July 28 and runs until August 6 in Cape Town, South Africa.

The trio of captain Felisitus Kwangwa, who plies her trade in the UK, and Australia-based shooters Joice Takaidza and Nalani Makunde are still expected to join camp following the announcement of the final team last week.

Mutsauki said with three weeks to go before the tournament begins, they would have wanted to spend as much time as they can with the players and ensure they work on the combinations. The technical team has been working with the local-based players since they got into camp on June 11 at Girls High School. While Kwangwa and Takaidza are regulars, Makunde is joining the Gems for the first time.

“We are on track, we are just expecting the others to arrive, then see how the combinations will come out. Those that have played together before, we have no problem, but those that have not played together before, we need to try the combinations and see if it works.

“So we hope they come in soon so that we have a bit more time with them. So we are just waiting for them to arrive,” Mutsauki said.

The Nedbank-sponsored Gems will be competing at the World Cup for the second time and are aiming to surpass the 2019 performance when they were placed eighth in Liverpool, England.

Zimbabwe Netball Association events manager, Barbara Rice said they are expecting the three players to be in the country by July 7.

“We are expecting them this week because they all said the first week of July. So we are expecting them by the 7th of July, which means they may join the rest of the team by next week,” said Rice. Zimbabwe are expected to play four friendly matches on their arrival in Cape Town. They are set to take on England on July 23, followed by another game against Barbados on July 25. They will then play Scotland and Wales on July 26. Mutsauki said in terms of training, the programme is going well and is pleased with the progress they are making.

“We are in the right direction. Right now we are just working more to keep them playing together and team defence, just looking at endurance. “So far we just have minor injuries, nothing serious,” said Mutsauki.

The team has since moved their training to City Sports Centre.


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