Netball squad chase Africa crown

Netball squad chase Africa crown

MASERU- Lesotho’s national netball team will end a decade-long absence from the Africa Netball Cup when it takes part in this year’s championship in South Africa.

The Africa Netball Cup is held annually and will be staged at the Bellville Velodrome in Cape Town beginning tomorrow. The tournament ends next Tuesday.

The last time Lesotho competed at the showpiece was in 2010 and the country has not featured since then due to financial problems faced by the Lesotho Netball Association (LNA).

LNA public relations officer ‘Mamakebe Moshoeshoe said: “We are bound to attend this tournament as it would have been our ninth year of absence from the Africa Netball Cup and our absence would have led us to lose our membership in this tournament. We, therefore, had to secure our place.”
Lesotho left on Tuesday for the tournament and will be amongst eight nations competing for the 2019 African crown.

The national side has been drawn in Pool A alongside hosts South Africa, Malawi and Zambia.

Pool B, meanwhile, sees defending champions Uganda pitted against Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania.

Lesotho kicks off its campaign tomorrow morning against Zambia before facing South Africa on Saturday afternoon.
Lesotho’s group slate then concludes on Sunday against Malawi before the championship rounds are held on Monday and Tuesday.
It will be a quality field.

Four of the eight teams at the Africa Netball Cup – South Africa (fourth), Malawi (sixth), Uganda (seventh) and Zimbabwe (eighth) – finished in the top 10 at the 2019 Netball World Cup held in July in England.
“Even though it wasn’t easy to come up with this team we are very glad that we are taking part in the tournament,” Moshoeshoe said.

“We have hope that we are not only going to participate but to compete even though our opponents have great experience, participated in World Cup games and had enough preparation,” she added.

Lesotho, for its part, only started training and preps on September 26.
LNA president Sheila Moluoane said the association had wanted to attend the continental showpiece in previous years but couldn’t because of a lack of funds.

Although Lesotho is finally making a return, it doesn’t mean everything has been smooth sailing in the build-up. The LNA’s initial budget, for example, had to be cut almost in half.

It means Lesotho will use the same kit and attire used by the country at the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games in Botswana last December.

Moluoane said team’s coaches also had to pitch in from their own pockets to secure the side’s transport to Cape Town.
“This cup was hosted last year in Zambia but it’s a pity we failed to attend due to (lack of) funds,” she said.

“Our budget for this year was M320 000 which we believed would sustain us to prepare for the Africa Netball Cup and cover every expense we incurred, but we only received M185 000 from the ministry (of sports).”

Moluoane added: “We appreciate the ministry’s effort as other sporting codes failed to attend international tournaments and we would not able to be where we are today without the ministry’s efforts.”

Lesotho’s squad for the 2019 Africa Netball Cup is made up mostly of players from Lesotho Correctional Service and Leqele netball clubs.
2019 Africa Netball Cup schedule:
Friday 18 October:
8:00 Uganda v Zimbabwe
10:00 Zambia v Lesotho
12:00 Kenya v Tanzania
18:00 South Africa v Malawi

Saturday 19 October:
10:00 Tanzania v Uganda
12:00 Zimbabwe v Kenya
14:00 Malawi v Zambia
16:00 Lesotho v South Africa

Sunday 20 October:
10:00 Malawi v Lesotho
12:00 South Africa v Zambia
14:00 Kenya v Uganda
16:00 Tanzania v Zimbabwe

Monday 21 October:
10:00 Pool A 3rd v Pool B 4th
12:00 Pool B 3rd v Pool A 4th
14:00 Pool A 1st v Pool B 2nd
16:00 Pool B 1st v Pool A 2nd

Tuesday 22 October:
08:00 Playoff for positions 7/8
10:00 Playoff for positions 5/6
12:00 Bronze Medal Match
14:00 Gold Medal Match

Mpinane Moshoeshoe

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