Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE senior netball team coach Lloyd Makunde yesterday named a 20-member provisional squad ahead of the upcoming Diamond Challenge in South Africa as they begin their build-up for the competition. The Challenge will see teams from Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the hosts competing.
The event is running from November 27 to December 1 and all participating teams are expected to be in South Africa by November 26 just before the competition begins.
While Makunde retained most of the players who participated at the joint Africa Championships and World Cup qualifiers in August, in Lusaka, Zambia, he has also roped in some new faces into the squad. The Gems coach said since the tournament is going to be their first step towards their preparations for next year’s World Cup, they need to try new players to beef up their team.
“This is the first step towards our World Cup preparations. We don’t have the resources to have all players in camp, so we will do away with some players we know are good and try some new players.
“If we keep on repeating having the same players, we will always have the same team . . . So we want to get the chance to watch some new players as well and next year we will make decisions. We are opening a wide base for our selection,” said Makunde.
Some of the new players that have been called up are Stembile Chitiva, Beverly Chipadza, Tanaka Chikusha and Emily Karumazondo to beef up their defence.
They have also brought in Lorraine Moyo and wing attack Patricia Masiya.
Regular faces that have been left out for this assignment include goal attack Mercy Mukwadi and goal defender Felistas Kangwa, who returned to action during the joint Africa Championships and World Cup qualifiers in Zambia after a long break due to an injury.
The squad will be trimmed down to 12 before departure.
Zimbabwe Netball Association president Leticia Chipandu early this week implored on the Gems to continue raising their profile when they battle in the Diamond Challenge tournament in South Africa.
“We are going there to compete, even South Africa we are not afraid of them. Every game we will give it our best. We are going for the title that’s why I said every game we will give it our best.
“But one of the things that we hope to look at is where we need to work on as we move towards the World Cup . . . and we are supposed to grow with each competition.
“So it’s going to be a very useful platform for the Gems, they should be able to see their prospects towards the Africa Championships and the World Cup,” said Chipandu.
Zimbabwe beat Botswana, Namibia and Zambia in Lusaka, in August.
Perpetua Siyachitema, Pauline Jani, Ndaizivei Madzikangava, Patricia Mauladi, Claris Kwaramba, Rudo Karume, Cynthia Gamuchirai, Sharon Bwanali, Ursula Ndlovu, Sthembile Chitiva, Alice Tewera, Lorraine Manjoro, Tafadzwa Matura, Trish Mafemera, Paidamoyo Tinoza, Media Mafuta, Tanaka Chikusha, Patricia Masiya, Beverly Chipadza, Emily Karumazondzo.