ZIMBABWE’S senior netball team captain Perpetua Siyachitema has warned her side to brace for a tough assignment at the upcoming Diamond Challenge which begins next week in South Africa. Zimbabwe will join hosts South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia for the tournament running from November 27 to December 1.
The Gems open their account against Botswana on November 27. They will then take on Zambia the following day and in their third encounter they face Namibia.
They clash with SA President’s XII on November 30 and wrap up their games against South Africa, who are the high ranked team in the Challenge on December 1. Siyachitema said with most all the teams out to prove a point, they need to prepare themselves for a tough event.
“Normally we have had two teams at the Challenge but this year there are more countries and all matches are going to be tough. But it will help us with our preparations…the new players get to see what it is like to play at this stage. They need that exposure. “I think this time we have countries like Zambia, they wanted to qualify for the World Cup. So they will be out to prove a point against us. So this time it’s going to be tricky because it’s not only South Africa that with give us a tough challenge.
“But Zambia, Namibia and Botswana they believe they should have qualified for the World Cup, so it’s going to be tough competition. We need to prove that we deserved to qualify for the World Cup,” said Siyachitema.
Siyachitema led the team to their qualification for the World Cup in 2019 to be hosted by England and reiterated that the Diamond Challenge is key to their build-up for next year.
“I think the Diamond Challenge is very crucial to us as a team. It’s helping us with the World Cup preparations especially considering that we struggle to travel to other countries for friendly matches.
“I think the preparations are going well, we are training. The training programme has changed now, the national association is bringing in a fitness trainer who is assisting. So our preparations this time around are much better and we are hoping to do well. Last time we got silver,” said Siyachitema.
Of the 20 players called-up for camp, 16 are now in camp. The quartet of Emily Karimazondo, Tafadzwa Matura, Patricia Mauladi and Claris Kwaramba are still to report for camp.
Coach Lloyd Makunde said he is still expecting Kwaramba to join the rest of the team and said apart from missing some of the players they are making good progress.
“They all didn’t come for different reasons but Claris, she will be coming. She has been writing exams so we will have to assess her fitness. We will see when she comes, she will have to fight for a place in the team,” said Makunde.
November 27: South Africa vs Namibia (3pm), Botswana vs Zimbabwe (5pm), Zambia vs SA President’s XII.
November 28: Zambia vs Zimbabwe (3pm), SA President’s XII vs Namibia (5pm), South Africa vs Botswana (7pm).
November 29: South Africa vs SA President’s XII (3pm), Botswana vs Zambia (5pm), Namibia vs Zimbabwe (7pm).
November 30: Botswana vs Namibia (3pm), South Africa vs Zambia (5pm), Zimbabwe vs SA President’s XII (7pm).
December 1: Botswana vs SA President’s XII (3pm), Zimbabwe vs South Africa (5pm), Zambia vs Namibia (7pm).