NAMIBIA gave an inspired performance to win the Debmarine Namibia Netball Pent Series for the first time after beating Zambia 54-43 in their final match on Wednesday.
In a terrific match the teams were still level at halftime, but Namibia, spurred on by their vociferous fans, dug deep to pull away for a hard fought victory.
It was the first time that Namibia had won the title, following Zimbabwe's inaugural triumph last year, and showed that they are now ready to challenge at a higher level in Africa and the world.
“All the teams gave us brilliant entertainment and netball in Africa has now been raised to a different level. I think Africa is now more than ready to take on the world,” the secretary general of the Namibia Olympic Committee, Joan Smit, who is also the Africa Regional Development Manager of the International Netball Federation, said.
Going into the match, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe were all still in with a chance of winning the title.
Zimbabwe had earlier completed their schedule with a comprehensive 64-30 victory against Namibia A, but with Namibia A's results not counting towards the overall standings, only the international matches between Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana were taken into account.
After Zimbabwe's shock defeat to Botswana on Monday, the competition was thrown wide open and ensured a nail-biting finish, with the winners to be determined on goal difference. Zimbabwe were still leading the log, but victory for either Namibia or Zambia, coupled with a big enough winning margin, would see them winning the title.
As such, the match was hotly contested by both sides from the start, with Zambia taking a narrow 14-12 lead by the end of the first quarter.
They went 19-16 ahead early in the second, but Namibia, with Anna Kaspar and Dorkas Tjipetekera in fine shooting form clawed their way back into the match to draw level at 26-26 by half time.
Namibia raised their tempo in the second half, but Zambia didn't back down and the teams matched each other goal for goal to take the score to 33-33.
By now the home fans were captivated by the unfolding drama and Namibia did not disappoint as they turned up the pressure to take a vital 41-37 lead by the end of the third quarter.
In the final quarter, Zambia did all they could to get back into the match, but Namibia were unwavering and held on for a famous 54-43 victory. In the end their winning margin was also enough, as they pipped Zimbabwe on goal difference to win the overall title.
Namibia coach Manuel Tjivera was ecstatic with the victory, saying his side had stuck to their game plan.
“I'm very proud of the girls. They stuck to our game plan - it was one on one defence, denying them space and forcing them into errors and it worked out perfectly.
“I told them to remain positive and to take it one ball at a time and they did exactly what I told them. Each quarter they played according to the plan and they didn't allow them to adjust,” he added.
Tjivera said Namibia's pressure was too much for Zambia to handle.
“Zambia made about four changes and that was their downfall, because they started to lose concentration and they couldn't keep up with the pressure that the girls were putting on them.”
Tjivera said they will now prepare for the Africa World Cup Qualifiers which take place in Lusaka in August.
“We just need to groom and mentor these girls now and get them ready for the World Cup qualifiers, while we will also try and get Namibia A's level to that of the senior team. We will start preparing now, we don't have much time, but we will give the other African countries a run for their money,” he said.
- Title: NAMIBIA gave an inspired performance to win the Debmarine
- Posted by:
- Date: 3:46 PM