Ellina Mhlanga in LIVERPOOL, England
AFTER leading his side to securing a top eight finish at the Vitality Netball World Cup here, Gems coach Lloyd Makunde is now fancying their chances of a possible top six finish.
Zimbabwe carried through two wins from Group A in the Preliminaries Stage One to the Preliminaries Stage Two in Group F, which also includes Australia, New Zealand, Malawi, Northern Ireland and Barbados.
They then beat Barbados to take their victories to three, and secure a top-eight finish, which was their target coming into this competition.
Zimbabwe face Malawi this afternoon in their last Group F game.
A win will see them moving into third place in the group, which gives them the opportunity to challenge for the top six in the Play-offs and Placings where they will face a team from Group G.
The teams finishing first and second in Group F and G go through to the semi-finals while the teams finishing third and fourth from the two groups compete for final positions fifth to eighth.
Group G is made up of England, South Africa, Uganda, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Scotland.
Zimbabwe are currently ranked fourth in Group F and are guaranteed of a top eight finish.
“We need to stay focused. We have never beaten Malawi but then everything starts somewhere,’’ said Makunde.
“I think this is our chance to beat them at the world stage. They rested their star players yesterday (Tuesday), so that they will play us, they also want to win against us.
“I think it will be the toughest game since we came here but then if we keep focused and play our normal game, we will be able to come out victorious.
“With how the team is playing now I am positive that we will pull through.’’
Malawi are occupying third position behind Australia and New Zealand.
“We are going to fight to the end but I have got this sixth sense that we are going to win the game,” said Makunde.
The teams that finish fifth in Group F and G play off for ninth and 10th places and the teams that finish last play for position 11 and 12.
Those that finished on the bottom in Group A to D at the Preliminaries Stage One, formed Group E and will play off for position 13 to 16.
The Gems coach is convinced their World Cup appearance is going to open doors for some of the players with scouts enquiring on the likes of Pauline Jani, Sharon Bwanali, Claris Kwaramba and Patricia Mauladi.
“Some scouts are making enquiries but there is nothing official as yet. We have Claris, Pauline and Sharon — those are some of the players being mentioned by scouts.
“I assure you that we will have a player or more being bought by one of the elite teams in three best leagues in the world.
“That’s the Vitality league here and Suncorp league in Australia and the New Zealand league. So we are hoping that we will have international players soon,” Makunde said.
Mauladi, the Gems centre, also confirmed the enquiries.
“I have been approached by some clubs but it’s still early to say what’s going to happen.