Gems brace for W/Cup opener

The Chronicle

Ellina Mhlanga in Liverpool, England

WITH just three days before their first Vitality Netball World Cup match, Zimbabwe’s senior national team manager Ledwin Dondo says they need to put all their energy on the upcoming assignment.

Zimbabwe takes on Sri Lanka on Friday, in their first encounter in Group A at the M & S Bank Arena (12.25pm Zimbabwe time).  

It has been a busy schedule for the team since their arrival in Liverpool with different groups from the diaspora community wanting to host the team and there has been a lot of excitement from their fans.

But with just a few days before the tournament gets underway, Dondo said the players now need to fully focus on the task at hand as they continued with their training sessions yesterday.

 “I think they (the players) are recovering, they will be ready for the matches, I think they are picking up. It’s different from day one, they were too tired and we understood. Now they are recovering, we are a bit relaxed now, so it’s okay.

“From today (yesterday) we are not moving away from the hotel until we get to the first match… We are not attending any function,” said Dondo.

However, captain Perpetua Siyachitema missed yesterday’s training session after she picked up a shoulder injury on Sunday. And she was still being assessed yesterday.

Dondo said they were concerned about the injury but were still waiting for the doctors’ report.

“We are worried now about Perpetua but the doctors are re-assuring us that she will be okay. She pulled herself during training, there was a behind pass during training, so she orced her hand back to get the ball,” Dondo said.

On the friendly matches they had hoped for, the Gems team manager revealed that they have had to forego their plans due to the costs involved and also looking at the time remaining before the competition begins.

“At the moment we don’t have any friendly game. Uganda had asked us to play them and our girls were too tired to play with them, so there are no friendly games here. We are just training until the first match on Friday.

“We discovered that they are far away, we need to pull out from the hotel and re-book there, which is very expensive. So we decided to stay here and train.

“The matches were pre-arranged for us, so we thought they were near where we are staying. Now we were told we should move up and book a hotel and pay for the court and the umpires…So there is just going to be training sessions until the matches,” said Dondo.

The Gems are hopeful of a positive start when they clash with Sri Lanka, who are making their 10th appearance at the Netball World Cup on Friday.

However, the senior national team have made it clear they would want to leave a mark on their maiden appearance at this stage and a win on Friday will set the tone for the following Group A matches against Australia and Northern Ireland.