By GRACE CHAILE –
ZAMBIA yesterday qualified to the Sydney 2015 World Netball Championship after beating Zimbabwe 47-42 in a nerve racking encounter to end a 15-year-wait of competing at the global stage.
The Africa Netball World Cup qualifying matches that came to an end in Gaborone, Botswana yesterday saw Zambia finishing second behind winners Uganda and the two join Malawi and South Africa as Africa’s representatives in Australia.
Zambia last participation at the global showpiece was during the 1999 New Zealand World Cup Championship.
The Pauline Nsombwe coached side finished on eight points while Uganda topped on 10 points after winning all their matches.
Yesterday’s must win match saw Zambia taking on Zimbabwe with the Chipolopolo Queens enjoying a first quarter narrow lead of 11-10 but managed to extend it to 23-20 in the second quarter.
Zimbabwe put up a strong fight to narrow the score to 34-33 in the third quarter but the Zambians, knowing that only a win will see them clinch qualification, upped their game to make history.
Zambia began her campaign on a disappointing 53-48 defeat to Uganda but thrashed Swaziland 71-35 in the second game to rekindle her hopes.
And the spirit of winning continued as Zambia beat Namibia 54-47 followed by a 46-37 over Botswana before thumping Zimbabwe 47-42.
Netball Association of Zambia (NAZ) president Gertrude Mukumi described Zambia’s qualification as a great achievement to the country that will be celebrating its golden jubilee year.
“I congratulate the girls for representing the country in an honourable manner. They played as a team and this is the result. I commend all the sponsors that came on board and contributed to this success,” she said.
Mukumi said NAZ will see to it that the team is kept in shape by organising weekly camping every month ahead of the World Cup that will be held from August 9 to 16 next year.
She called for more sponsorship and investment especially that the sport has shown what it could achieve.
NAZ general secretary Pritchard Ngoma aid from Gaborone that the team is expected to arrive in the country at 20:00 hours today.