GK Loreen Ngwira
GD Towera Vinkhumbo
WD Joanna Kachilika (c)
C Thandie Galleta
WA Takondwa Lwazi
GA Sindi Simtowe
GS Mwai Kumwenda
GK Stella Nanfuka
GD Ajio Lilian
WD Florence Nanyonga
C Ruth Meme
WA Halima Nakachwa
GA Racheal Nanyonga
GS Peace Proscovia
Uganda and Malawi played the most entertaining match of the Games so far, both on and off the court. Supporters for Uganda and Malawi were in full voice for the entire game, the “U-gan-da” cheer trying to drown out the Malawi wail.
A reporter from the BBC asked before the game whether this was an important game in the scheme of things. If pool results fall the way of rankings, this was a fight for a chance at the 5th place classification game. But it could have been the gold medal match such was the intensity and commitment from players.
The word ‘physical’ doesn’t adequately describe the game. Every pass was contested heavily in the air or low to the ground.
Uganda had the better of the first quarter, taking an eight goal lead. The Ugandan defence of Stella Nanfuka and Ajio Lilian minimised superstar Mwai Kumwenda’s influence, keeping Malawi to 10 goals.
Malawi committed eight turnovers in the first quarter under intense pressure. Peace Proscovia again showed why she is one of the outstanding performers of the Games so far, dominating the air.
Malawi tidied up their turnovers in the second quarter and began to chip away at the lead. Takondwa Lwazi moved to C and gave Malawi a dynamic option through court. The Malawian defence did a better job of starving supply to Proscovia and won the quarter by three goals.
The display of aerial athleticism, physicality, desperation and skill continued in the second half.
The African style of netball is fearless – long and high passes down the court to contested situations. Players don’t hesitate to fly through the air, with little regard for safety. There were a number of injuries throughout the match but nothing that appeared to be serious.
Uganda brought Muhayimina Namuwaya on at GK to try and quieten Kumwenda. Betty Tizza also made a short appearance at C for Uganda, before leaving the court after a heavy fall on her tailbone. The changes had little effect, Malawi won the third quarter to draw within one goal at the final break.
The final quarter was a desperate wrestle featuring incredible intercepts from both teams. Malawi finally took the lead with 11 minutes remaining, but couldn’t hold it. Uganda edged away in the dying minutes. It was Malawi’s 18 turnovers throughout the game, compared to 8 from Uganda, that was the difference.
Contrasting emotions were on display at the final whistle – elation for Uganda and despair for Malawi. Several Malawi players were inconsolable as they left the court.
Both teams face tough competition in their next matches from England and New Zealand.
Uganda 54 def Malawi 52
Peace Proscovia 35/38 92%
Racheal Nanyonga 19/21 90%
Uganda 54/59 92%
Sindi Simtowe 1/1 100%
Mwai Kumwenda 43/47 91%
Jane Chimaliro 8/10 80%
Malawi 52/58 90%
Imelda Nyongesa, Uganda Coach
“I feel so happy with the Ugandan team, being that it is our first time to come and participate in this Commonwealth. The African teams, we have done great, so I’m so grateful.”
Malawi’s come back
“I had to realise that we don’t go off the game very fast, because Malawi is not a bad side, it is a good team. Once they lead you with more goals I don’t think you can bring them down. On my side I am so grateful and happy.”
On Peace Proscovia
“Peace Proscovia, she’s our best player, she played with London (Team Bath). She was a target.”
Stella Oyella, Uganda
“We were not expecting that win today. It was a hard game, but we tried our best.”
Mwai Kumwenda, Malawi
“I’m proud of my team, because we haven’t trained together for a long time. It was a tough game because we just lost our confidence, but it was a good game. We just don’t possess our ball, so that’s why we lost this game.”
Racheal Nanyonga, Uganda
“This is our first time to come here, but we’re so excited for this tournament. It’s really so amazing, it’s nice. Now we are used to this Commonwealth Games, now next time round, we are going to do our best, so that we can be 1st or 2nd.”
Her one-handed shooting style
“Defenders are tall, but you know, me, the way I shoot and my accuracy, it was difficult but I had to shoot. Since I was young, I was using one hand. Maybe within time, I can use two hands, but right now I’m used to one hand.”
The game itself
“All Malawi defenders were marking Peace (Proscovia). We goal attacks, we are the ones who see the GS. When you see your GS is marked you have to make sure you enter and shoot. Or when they defend our GS, that means it’s your time – you GA – to shoot.”
“It was difficult on our side, yet it’s not good to lead your first quarter, second quarter and they come, it’s not good. It was hard on our side but we came up and we did what we’ve done.”