THE Gems recorded their first loss at the ongoing netball World Cup qualifiers in South Africa where there were pummeled 68-47 by the hosts.
That defeat, however, was of little consequence because they had already booked their place in the semifinals of the tournament together with South Africa from their pool.
Zimbabwe finished second in the pool behind South Africa, who came into this tournament having already qualified for the World Cup finals.
The semifinals begin today with the cross-pool classification matches.
Zimbabwe used yesterday’s match to try out a number of combinations as they geared for the semis.
They would be worried though by the number of errors which South Africa capitalised on to take an 18-9 lead in the first quarter.
The technical team made a number of changes for the second quarter with Felistas Kwangwa, Beaulla Hlungwane, who won the Player of Match on Wednesday, being introduced.
Nicole Muzanenhamo, who usually plays the centre position, had to join Ursula Ndlovu in the goal shooting circle, taking on from Tafadzwa Matura. The quarter ended 32-20 as the Gems continued trailing the hosts.
The changes injected life into the Gems as they added 11 goals compared to South Africa’s 14 in the second quarter.
But the gaps further widened in the third quarter as South Africa flexed their muscles to finish the quarter on 53–31.
Gems assistant coach Tatenda Shinya said he was pleased to see the players sticking to the game plan and that they managed to try out combinations.
“Firstly, I can say there is no good loss, but as a coach if the players implement what you taught them, I think it’s a win for us. I’m happy we managed to try all combinations that we wanted to see and it came up as we wanted, so we are happy and we are looking forward to doing better in the next games,” said Shinya. “We needed to try all of the combinations because South Africa is one of the strongest sides in Africa. This game was also part of the learning curve to our side, so everyone got a chance to play. We also managed to rest Sharon Bwanali who is still nursing that injury, but I’m sure coming into our next game, we will come back stronger.”