Uganda will achieve their highest placing ever at a World Cup after they beat Malawi 57-46 at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town. The She Cranes will feature in Sunday’s 5th/6th place playoff. Their previous highest placing was 7th in 2019 in Liverpool.
Margret Baagala started on centre for Uganda after coach Fred Mugerwa said earlier in the week she was still struggling with the aftermath of malaria.
Uganda put pressure early on the attack of Malawi, with especially the goal third feeling it. A couple of loose passes were picked up by the She Cranes defenders, giving them a four goal-lead after the first five minutes.
The Malawi Queens then started playing with more confidence with some well-executed moves and drives down court, to narrow the gap to just one point. Goal attack Mwai Kumwenda commanded the circle, keeping her space well to keep her team close. Goal shooter Joyce Mvula scored the equalising goal in the last minute of the first quarter and landed another one soon after to put Malawi one up. Uganda got one back, and the score went to 14-all.
At the start of the second quarter Malawi wing attack Thandie Galleta went down after landing awkwardly on her ankle, she was helped off court. She was replaced by Jane Chimaliro. Mvula then landed two goals in quick succession to give Malawi a lead.
It was a very physical encounter with the style of play typical of African netball and with players running hard at the ball. There were several stoppages for injuries, including four minutes before halftime when Chimaliro went down and had to be replaced. Several cautions were handed out to both teams, some with which the crowd didn’t necessarily agree with.
Malawi goalkeeper Loreen Ngwira made some brilliant steels, giving Uganda star shooter Mary Cholhok a hard time. With halftime approaching, Cholhok, who also plays in the UK Super League, finally got going and with four goals on the trot gave her team a 28-23 lead.
There was no changes for Uganda at the start of the third quarter. For Malawi, Jane Dambo came on as goal defence while Towera Vinkhumbo moved to the bench.
After enjoying a sizeable chunk of the possession in the second quarter (64 per cent), Uganda continued to dominate Malawi in the third. This despite the efforts from the Malawi mid-court, led by centre Takondwa Lwazi, to feed the ball through to their goal circle.
In the latter stages of the penultimate quarter, Vinkhumbo, back on as goal defence for Malawi, received a warning from the umpire. The next misstep from her would have meant expulsion from the game for two minutes.
Uganda stepped on court for the final 15 minutes leading 43-35. Attention briefly got distracted when Springbok captain Siya Kolisi arrived to loud cheers but then it was all back to the action on court. The She Cranes continue to build on their lead, not allowing the Malawi Queens to get any grip on the match.
Uganda coach Fred Mugerwa was up and out of his seat at the side of the court throughout the match, shouting instructions and pointing to where he wanted his players to move.
With five minutes to go, Uganda was ten points clear and made certain of advancing to play for the 5th/6th position on Sunday.
Most Valuable Player: Shadiah Nassanga (Uganda)
Goal Shooting Percentage: Uganda 95 per cent / Malawi 90.2 per cent
Penalty Count (Contact and Obstruction): Uganda 58 / Malawi 96
Quarter scores: 14-14 / 28-23 / 43-35 / 57-46