By Nokutenda Chiyangwa and Veronica Gwaze
ZIMBABWE’S gems are confident they will be able to hold out despite being handed a tough draw that includes champions Australia at the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England.
The tournament is scheduled to run from July 12 to 17 with the Gems also being drawn in with Northern Ireland, and Sri Lanka in Group A.
Uganda, who just like Zimbabwe qualified via the African Championships in Zambia last month, are in Group D together with England, Scotland and Samoa.
African giants Malawi and South Africa are Group B and C respectively.
Group B also has New Zealand, Barbados and Singapore while the other Group C teams are Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Fiji.
Zimbabwe coach Lloyd Makunde was, however, unfazed by the prospects of facing Australia and said he was optimistic they would win through from the group stages.
Makunde said although Australia are ranked the world’s best, the Gems had no reason to feel intimidated.
“Although they are ranked the best in the world, we are not threatened because as a coach you should give yourself time to study and from what I got their play is not far from ours except that they have a tall goal shooter and a tall goalkeeper,” Makunde said.
Makunde said while they are scouting for tall players, they will look to use such players like Pauline Jani of ZRP Mambas who has the height.
“We are not going to be there to add numbers but to prove that we are a formidable side especially banking on tall Jani who has over the years gained a lot of experience from the several tournaments she has played in national colours.
“However, we have a lot of pressure because most of our players are short and therefore we are scouting for tall players so that height doesn’t cost us,” said Makunde.
“Camp time is no room for mistakes but a clash of talent and a time to prove to us that you are the best so the players should take this time to work on their performances and improve on their weaknesses”.
Makunde also warned the Gems to stay away from unprescribed drugs to avoid falling foul of the World Anti-doping Agency rules.
“I am not saying they are on drugs but at international level things are different and they are very strict so we have no room for mistakes.
“Practice makes perfect, so my advice is that they should start preparations now and they should resists using any performance-enhancing drugs,” he said.
Session two: Jamaica v Fiji, England v Uganda, South Africa v Trinidad and Tobago Scotland v Samoa.
Session three: Australia v Zimbabwe, New Zealand v Barbados, Northern Ireland v Sri Lanka , Malawi v Singapore.
Session four: England v Scotland, Jamaica v Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda v Samoa ,South Africa v Fiji.
Session five: New Zealand v Singapore, England v Samoa, Malawi v Barbados, Uganda v Scotland.
Session six: Australia v Sri Lanka ,Jamaica v South Africa, Northern Ireland v Zimbabwe, Trinidad and Tobago v Fiji.