Harare — ZIMBABWE senior women netball team's hopes of qualifying for World Championships in the United Kingdom were crushed when they finished fifth in the Confederation of Southern Africa Netball Association tournament in Durban, South Africa.
The tournament was acting as a qualifier for the World Championships and seven countries took part in the event - champions Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
It was Zimbabwe's maiden appearance in the event after affiliating to Cosana last year and the Zimbabwe Netball Association had to send players drawn from Renaissance and Railstars club to represent the country.
They had failed to raise enough funds to send a proper national team. The country's representatives managed to win two out of the six matches they played.
They beat Lesotho 37-36 in a tightly-contested match before losing to Botswana 53-40. They also went down 28-63 to hosts South Africa before Swaziland handed them a 40-29 defeat.
In their fifth match they beat Namibia 47-41 before they were thumped by the defending champions Malawi 77-31.
Malawi won the tournament and will represent Africa at the World Championships. Zina president Leticia Chipandu said the team played well, considering the challenges they faced, and given it was their first taste of such competition.
"The girls played well considering that these were players from two different teams after we failed to raise money for the national team and it was our first time to take part in the tournament.
"It could have been better if we had a national team because other countries had their national teams but we competed very well against other countries.
"Our quality of play was good as we have not been competing for the past 15 years," said Chipandu.
Meanwhile, the bus provided by the National Railways of Zimbabwe for the trip was stolen in South Africa.