…Zambia wins maiden Africa Netball title in Botswana
By MICHAEL MIYOBA
THE Zambia national netball team has finally scooped its maiden Africa Netball Cup title after overcoming regional rivals Namibia 57-55 in a tightly contested final played at the University of Botswana Sports Arena in Botswana.
The final against Namibia presented Zambia one of the toughest tests at the championship where they suffered only one loss and five wins in six games.
The Copper Queens who were only beaten by fourth best ranked in Africa Zimbabwe started the tightly contested final on a shaky note and lost the first quarter 13-11.
But the Zambians bounced back in the second quarter to ensure a 23-23 stalemate at half time.
The Lazarus Tembo-drilled Copper Queens dominated the game in the third quarter which they managed to win 35-33 before Namibia bounced back to send the game into extra time after a 43-43 stalemate at full time.
In the first quarter of extra time, Zambia was trailing by one goal as Namibia enjoyed a 49-48 lead over the Copper Queens.
The Copper Queens redeemed themselves in the final quarter to win the cagey affair 57-55 and scoop Zambia’s first netball Africa Cup title in the absence of giants Malawi, South Africa and Uganda who couldn’t take part in the competition due to various reasons which included the lack of resources to travel for the games.
The win cheered Tembo who complained about the officiating which he said was substandard but hailed the Copper Queens for maintaining their focus to win their maiden Africa Cup trophy.
“I feel excited. It wasn’t an easy one. It went all the way to extra time and I think it means a lot for us and for our fans back home,” Tembo said.
“This was the best game of the tournament. I think both Namibia and Zambia gave the fans a good game to watch,” Tembo said.
Meanwhile, the Africa Netball is in the process of getting sponsors to cushion the costs for teams attending tournaments.
Re-elected Africa Netball Treasurer Martha Lungu-Sichone said the continental netball mother body has identified some potential sponsors who can cater for food and accommodation when teams travel for tournaments.
Sichone, who is also Netball Zambia President has called on governments to help fund the sport if it is to grow to the required standards.
She has observed that attendance at the 2023 Africa Netball Cup would have been enhanced if teams received adequate funding.
The 2023 Africa Netball Cup saw six female and four male teams participating while some teams pulled out at last minute citing financial incapacity and other reasons.