Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
WITH the Gems claiming their first African Netball Championship title in 2015, captain Perpetua Siyachitema still has one wish, which is qualifying for the World Cup before she calls it quits on her career. With the African Championships slated for next month serving as the qualifier for the 2019 World Cup to be staged in Liverpool, England, Siyachitema is hopeful they can break the jinx and make their maiden appearance at the global showpiece.
The continental tournament is set to take place in Lusaka, Zambia, from August 13 to 19 and the participating countries will also be fighting for the two slots to the World Cup.
And the Zimbabwe senior netball side got their preparations for the African Championships slated for next month rolling last week at Mbare Netball Complex.
“For me I want to see myself playing with some of the world’s best players. So going to the World Cup is my wish for my netball life before I retire. So if I get that, my wish would have been fulfilled.
“With the girls we have been talking, we know each other and we appreciate each other’s talent. We were telling each other that we have to push and we have to encourage each other as a team.
“We need to fight for qualification to the World Cup as a team, whoever is selected let’s play as a team,” said Siyachitema.
Other countries expected in Lusaka include South Africa and Malawi, who have both qualified for the World Cup because of their rankings, Botswana, defending champions Uganda, Namibia, Lesotho and hosts Zambia.
Siyachitema went to Botswana with the Young Gems last year for the World Youth Cup as an assistant coach and says the feeling of being part of the event was fulfilling and would want to see the senior team making their debut appearance at the world stage next year.
With coach Lloyd Makunde retaining most of the seasoned players in the team, coupled with the fact that South Africa and Malawi have already qualified, Siyachitema believes they have a good chance of grabbing one of the two remaining slots.
“We have been together for a very long time, so I think it’s easy for the coaches because we know each other and the combinations.
“I think so far all is going well and going to Namibia (for the Pent Series) and losing to Botswana was an eye-opener. So we know where we need to correct (our mistakes). I think everyone knows what needs to be done, everything has just changed, the attitude and the way we are training. Everyone is giving it their best, they are putting in 100 percent effort.
“Felistas (Kwangwa) our defender is back now and is a very useful player. Her return is a morale-booster to the team. Our game also has changed and we have been improving. So if we are going to have a challenge, it will be against Uganda,” said Siyachitema.
Pauline Jani, Perpetua Siyachitema, Cynthia Gamuchirayi, Rudo Karume, Ursula Ndlovu, Ndaiziveyi Madzikangava, Media Mafuta, Alice Banda, Patricia Mauladi, Edna Nyamhazha, Tafadzwa Mawango, Tafadzwa Matura, Claris Kwaramba, Mercy Mukwadi, Sharon Bwanali, Felistas Kwangwa, Christine Kadandara, Portia Miti.