Netball: Jubilant Malawi finish fifth

By Edward Gay

Malawi are the Queens of African netball, comming from behind to knock a disappointing South African side down the world rankings list.

Malawi beat South Africa 52 - 49 and are now fifth in the world. South Africa has dropped to sixth.

Malawi had the support of the New Zealand crowd and came from four goals behind at half time. The crowd were rewarded twice over by a gutsy game of netball and an adoring series of waves from Malawi veteran Mary Waya after the match.

When the final whistle blew, the entire Malawi bench emptied and danced on court. There were group hugs and cheers of happiness.

Malawi captain Peace Chawinga said now it was only the four big teams who are ahead of Malawi - New Zealand, Australia, Jamaica and England.

Malawi are fighters and it was great to see the team come from behind, Chawinga said.

"It was like a do or die because they wanted to prove that they were ahead of us but we wanted to tell them, no, we are ahead of you," Chawinga said.

She said the dancing was a gift to the crowd and it was because of their support, the team did not get tired.

South Africa captain Bronwyn Bock-Jonathan said South Africa has not improved where other countries have.

"Obviously we're very disappointed. This obviously has implications for the next World Champions, depending on the format," Bock-Jonathan said.

Bock-Jonathan was emotional after the match and said Netball South Africa must now start from scratch.

"Nobody can tell me that the talent isn't in South Africa. The talent is there. It's just the programme in place to develop a new squad over the next four years," Bock-Jonathan said.

Coach Burta de Kock said they knew it would be a tough game and Malawi's rhythm could not be disturbed.

"Mother Mary, nothing upsets her, she just goes on and on," de Kock said, referring to Malawi's Mary Waya.

She said South Africa now has to put together a four year plan for the next World Champs and the talent is there.


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