Desert Jewels Off to Shaky Start

Namibia’s senior netball team, the Desert Jewels, got off to a wobbly start after going down by 49 baskets to 36 against hosts Botswana in their second match of the African World Cup Qualifiers underway in Gaborone, Botswana, yesterday.

The action-starved new look Desert Jewels also lost their opening match in the six-nations tourney – going down 37-58 against regional minnows Swaziland and will now face a mammoth task when they come up against the fast improving Zambia later today.

Despite the disappointing showing, the clearly rusty Namibians can dust themselves off and show an improved performance when they hit the home stretch with relatively winnable ties against tournament lightweights Zimbabwe and Uganda in their last two matches in the week-long tournament.

The top two teams from the 6-nations round robin group earns automatic qualification to the World Cup in Australia next tear. Namibia previously appeared in two World Cup finals in New Zealand and Birmingham, England where the team gave a damn good account of themselves in post-independence.

Netball in the country has since taken a worrisome dip in form with lots of internal administrative bickering blamed for the downward spiral of the once flourishing lady’s game.

Once the pride of the nation, Africa’s second-best placed netball playing nation before and after Namibia’s independence is now playing second fiddle to the region’s previous whipping girls, such as regional lightweights Botswana, Tanzania, Swaziland and Lesotho.

However, pundits believe Namibia has the talent to perform with aplomb at the highest level and possesses what it takes to improve as the tourney progresses while some put the blame on Namibia’s lukewarm showing in their opening two matches squarely on fatigue – citing the long travelling hours by road as a major obstacle.

Source : New Era