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Australia beat Zimbabwe in World Cup opener


SuperSport


World No 1 Australia completely outplayed Zimbabwe in their first match at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town, beating their African counterparts 86-30.

This was just the second World Cup meeting between the two countries. Australia won the only other encounter 73-37 four years ago in Liverpool.

Zimbabwe is the seventh African nation to compete at a World Cup (2019 in Liverpool) after South Africa (1963), Uganda (1979), Namibia (1991), Malawi (1995), Zambia (1999) and Botswana (2007).

Even though there are 12 positions between Australia (1) and Zimbabwe (13) on the latest world rankings, the African nation enjoyed an advantage in the first two quarters with 51 per cent of the possession.

They also briefly held a one-goal lead. The Gems were however punished in the penalties department, 34 penalties conceded for contact and obstruction compared to their opponents’ 16.

Both teams remained the same for the first half of the match, with coaches Stacey Marinkovich and Ropafadzo Mutsauki appearing to take a “wait and see” approach. For Zimbabwe, captain Felistus Kwangwa switched from goal defence to wing defence, Joice Takaidza from centre to goal defence and Sharleen Tanaka Makusha from wing defence to centre.

In the last 30 minutes of the match, Zimbabwe simply couldn’t keep up with their much more fancied opponents. The third quarter score was 21-6 in favour of Australia and the fourth quarter 24-6.

Zimbabwe captain Felisitus Kwangwa lamented her team’s lack of consistency after the match.

“Each team gets the same amount of chances. We need to do the same as Australia and make use of what comes our way. We didn’t make use of our centre passes or our turnovers. But all is not lost. Australia participated in their first World Cup in 1963, this is only our second one, we still have high hopes.”

Australian coach Stacey Marinkovich made wholesale changes to her squad at the start of the third quarter. Speaking to the media after the match, she said it was a case of building combinations, something they’ve been working through in training.

“It was good to be able to basically put two line-ups on court, and now it’s a case of putting the puzzle together. We also need to see what the opposition are doing. The best plans are adaptable.”

Most Valuable Player: Courtney Bruce (Australia)





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