GOLD COAST, Australia -- Buoyed by an historic victory over New Zealand, Malawi's netball team will return home from the Commonwealth Games with the belief that they can give an even stronger showing at the World Cup in England next year.
Known as the 'Queens.' Malawi wrapped up their campaign on the Gold Coast with a 60-52 victory over Ireland to secure seventh spot. But it could have been so much better had they hit the ground running, with coach Mulilima Whyte lamenting the two straight losses to start the campaign.
"The tournament was great, we started badly when we played England, we lost to England," Whyte said reflecting on Malawi's performances. "We played badly again when we played Uganda, [then] the day after we beat them [New Zealand].
"We didn't have much time in my country to train, but when we got here we started feeling the heat of the game and here we are. We tied in points with New Zealand, Uganda and ourselves; unfortunately we didn't have a very good [points differential] that's why we are back in seventh position."
But it was the victory over gold medal contenders New Zealand that really stood out, the 57-53 triumph providing arguably the biggest shock of the entire Commonwealth Games program.
Moving forward, Whyte said that victory would be invaluable as he isolates the areas in which his side must perform if they're to consistently mix it with netball's best.
"That was a very good experience, we gained quite a lot," he said of the victory over the Kiwis. "We observed our players; they need to play at pace, they need to be faster than the way they are playing now. And they have met some very good, fast players here, [more-so] than our own players.
"So we are trying to adjust to suit... which was not in our training model [beforehand]. But this time around we are going to prepare very well for the next assignment."
A top-four showing at next year's World Cup shouldn't be out of the question for Malawi, either. Having beaten New Zealand, the next goal is to consistently challenge the likes of Australia, Jamaica, and England as well.
"That one is in my plan, we are going to sit down, plan ahead and see what we can do," Whyte said. "But I am hopeful that when we meet again in a similar tournament we will get up to the top because we have now measured the strength of the senior teams as well as everybody else.
"So we are hopeful that when we plan, strategize, we are going to beat them."