It was an important learning curve

Mutsauki says the future is bright

Shelly Guni

Gems coach Ropafadzo Mutsuaki has said the recent Confederation of Southern Africa Netball Associations (COSANA) Tri-Nations cup was an important learning curve for the players.

The Gems finished second with a silver medal after two wins in six games.

But the coach refused to read too much into the end-results, saying their biggest priority was to give the new look Gems team exposure and an opportunity to compete at the highest level.

The Gems are preparing for the upcoming Netball World Cup Qualifiers to be hosted by South Africa in August.

And should they qualify, the Gems will be making their second appearance at the netball’s global showcase which will be held for the first time in Africa.

The COSANA tournament came at the right time for the team as they managed to see where they needed to work on.

The team will have another series of friendly matches in Manchester, England in July before they participate at the qualifiers.

In an interview with Review and Mail, Mutsauki said the competition was tough, especially for the ones that didn’t manage to get in the first camp, but much experience and exposure was gained in the process.

“It was obviously going to be a tough competition for us because we competed with the best in Africa (Malawi) and most of their athletes who took part were well-experienced and well-conditioned.

“We played Malawi for three consecutive days which somehow affected our players. But we still managed to play until the final game in which we won. I think it’s a great achievement for all the players and from here, we can only get better as a country,” he observed.

The coach is looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the athletes and the country, adding that he hopes for more international friendlies and also to qualify for the world cup.

“We are all excited to see these players on the court, and we should create more opportunities for them to compete at various highly competitive events. That way, I am sure they will improve their performances as individuals. But all in all, I have to say it was a successful and useful trip for our players.”

The team started well but fatigue somehow caught up with them. During the final game, the centre player Nicole Muzanenamo had to be taken out on a stretcher after she fell during the game.

The coach however said they need to work more on the team’s fitness levels.

“We need to work more on fitness but there are others who looked to have finished the whole tournament. And we also need to work on our mid and shooting,

“We need to have a formation to use. I think those we managed to work with in the first camp showed that they had learnt something.”

Mutsauki believes they need more time to work with all the players and also appeals fpr more funding for their camps to be successful.

This comes after the Gems had a three day training camp before they left for Malawi.

“We need time to get in camp to work with all the players.

“And if resources are available and with the government continuous support, I’m sure we will get there

“We expect that in playing these friendlies and tough games we see areas that we need to work on and improve from there.

“For starters the technical team since we have a limited camping time, they should choose players that fit the positions that they want them to play and not to create positions for the players that will be difficult for them to play.”

Greenfuel’s Bicole Muzanenamo and Platinum’s Chipo Shoko made their debut for the senior team.

For the two players it was a great experience as they managed to command some first seven positions.

Also making a return to the Gems was Beaula Hlungwane and Cynthia Gamuchirai. Unfortunately Gamuchirai suffered an ankle injury and was ruled out of the tournament.

All players had a good run, each and every time they were given the chance to play.

Meanwhile the under 19 team had an impressive run during the tournament.

The team opened their campaign with a 42-23 win over Namibia under 19.

They went on to crush the hosts Malawi under19 42-37 in their second game before registering another 46-36 win over Namibia u19.

And in their final game, they played Malawi and lost 37-36 and despite the loss, they were crowned champions on goal difference.

“It was a beautiful experience. It really meant a lot and I think these guys deserve a gold medal and they did very well and I’m happy with their performance and obviously we can do better,” said Simbarashe Mlambo u19 coach.

“I think we need to improve our game as a country. We need to pace up and increase our tempo really play well be coordinated and get some more time in camp and utilize our resources and the issue of school sport not,”

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