Grace Chingoma-Senior Sports Reporter
THE Zimbabwe senior national netball team coach Ropafadzo Mutsauki says the Gems need to keep on playing many games against top ranked teams to improve their world ranking.
This follows the latest World Rankings where Zimbabwe retained 13th position globally and fourth in Africa.
According to the latest Netball World Rankings, Africa’s top four did not change with South Africa, who are ranked fifth in the world, maintaining their top spot on the continent followed by Malawi, who are sixth in the world, and Uganda who are seventh.
Zimbabwe are ranked fourth in Africa behind Uganda but are a distant 13th in the world.
The Gems’ opponents in Group A at next year’s Netball World Cup, which wil be staged in Cape Town, South Africa, Australia retained their pole position on the world rankings.
They are followed by New Zealand, England and Jamaica to complete the world’s top four.
For next year’s Netball World Cup, Zimbabwe were drawn in Group A alongside heavyweights Australia and eighth-placed Tonga and 16th-placed Fiji.
The 2023 Netball World Cup will run from July 28 to July 6 at the East London Convention Centre in Cape Town.
Mutsauki says the Gems need to work harder ahead of the global showpiece.
“It shows that we need to keep on working (hard). We retained number 13 but if you look at a nation like Tonga, they were number 9 in the last rankings and are now number 8. They are playing well and improving their ranking. So we need to keep playing ranking matches, and that will help us to improve on our rankings just the way Tonga is doing,” said Mutsauki.
However, the Gems have lost one place footing this year, having started the year in January ranked 12th.
Zimbabwe slipped to 13th position in March this year and they have failed to crawl back to their previous ranking.
The latest world rankings follow the updated performances to ensure the rankings reflect the most current form of international teams.
The latest rankings are based on the matches that were played by December 10, 2022.
The Gems concluded their year with the Spar Diamond Challenge Cup in South Africa at the end of November where they competed against South Africa and Scotland.
The Gems finished the Diamond Challenge campaign without a victory after they lost to both South African sides the Proteas and the President’s XII. They had a 41-41 draw against Scotland to cap a winless campaign.
After the tournament, the team broke camp and is expected to resume next year after ZINA meetings on the Netball World Cup preparations.
Turning to the Netball World Cup preparations, Mutsauki says they are hoping to engage in matches against competitive teams.
“We are looking forward to playing friendly matches with ranking teams. Our association organises that and we put in our recommendations.
“As a technical team, we have plans to play against Uganda and Malawi, and if we manage the European tour, we would also want to play against Northern Ireland and England. I think that will help us but resources sometimes fail us in as much as we would have planned so,” Mutsauki said.
The Zimbabwe Netball Association are expected to have a meeting in January to map the way forward on the Netball World Cup preparations.
The Gems coach added that they are looking at having periodical camps as a build-up toward the global tournament.
“We are looking at having periodical camps like we camp for four weeks and then break and continue like that until we have the final camp towards the tournament,’’ Mutsauki said.
The Gems have a big task to improve on their maiden appearance at the Vitality Netball World Cup in 2019 in Liverpool, England, where they finished in a commendable eighth position.
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