Sunday, April 18, 2021

Botswana netball team fails to qualify for World Cup

The dream started perfectly, sprouting like a beautiful flower in a warm spring day as Botswana beat Zimbabwe on the opening day of the Africa Regional Qualifiers.

By Tuesday morning, the flower was blossoming well, giving Batswana hope that they would see a perfect bloom, their netball team qualifying for the 2015 Sidney Netball World Cup.

Botswana swept aside Namibia by 46-39 to keep the Sidney dreams alive. Come Wednesday, everything changed as Botswana’s flower wilted under the scorching midday sun.

In a game that pitted the two top ranked teams in the qualifiers, the local girls stuttered and faltered under the suffocating pressure and intensity of the Ugandan girls, losing the game by an unassailable 15 points margin.

But then there was still hope, the dream could still continue. Botswana would face Zambia, a team ranked lower than them in a game that would determine who will likely join Uganda on the Sidney bound plane.

However, when Thursday evening’s north bound wind blew across the BONA courts, it swept away what remained of Botswana’s hopes of seeing their flower bloom, their team qualifying for their third World Cup appearance. Against a Zambia team they were expected to beat, the local girls faltered yet again.

Where Zambia played with intensity and purpose, Botswana was lethargic and disjointed.

Save for their inspirational captain and Goal Attacker Portia Rasekhumba, the local girls seemed not so hungry for a win.

Upfront, the goal shooter of the day, Tebogo Radipotsane was not mobile and did not trouble the very mobile Zambia defence.
In the midcourt, the very promising young center, Gosego Tsele failed to cope with the much fitter and quicker Zambian girls.

Under relentless pressure from the Zambians, Tsele made mistakes and made wayward passes that gave Zambia possession.
At the back, the country’s always dependable duo of Florah Keeditse and Ntebogang Motlakaloso failed to make interceptions.
Instead, the duo committed a litany of fouls and offences against the Zambia forwards, giving them some free shots at goal in the process.

Despite all this, Botswana still managed to keep Zambia’s lead at marginal points, losing the first and second quarters by 10-11 and 10-12 respectively and thus going to recess trailing by three points.

From recess, it was all a downward spiral for Botswana as Zambia ran away winners, handing the local girls a 37-46 loss and all but ending their dream to qualify for the Sidney Netball World Cup.

While the Zambians were quick on transition when in possession and quick to close when they did not have the ball, Botswana seemed lost both with and without the ball.

Whatever was left of the dream was eventually vanquished on Friday as Zambia beat Zimbabwe to book their ticket to Sidney, rendering Botswana’s encounter with Swaziland to be just a mere formality.

The uninspiring performance by the local girls means the country has now failed to make any impact in the past two Africa games and will likely result in the country dropping down the rankings.

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