2022 Commonwealth Games review: Malawi

AS the curtain closes on another Commonwealth Games, we take a look back at how each of the netballing nations fared in our team-by-team review series. Next up is Malawi, a nation that has caused upsets in the past, but at Birmingham, could not quite repeat those feats and ended up finishing seventh overall with a playoff victory over Wales on the final day.


Malawi had to wait a game to kick-off its 2022 Commonwealth Games campaign, and came up against home nation and reigning Gold Medallists England first up. Though the Queens were unable to get the points, they did battle well against a top side, going down by 25 goals. They bounced back with an as-expected victory over Northern Ireland the next day, securing a 13-goal victory. A 19-goal loss at the hands of the Silver Ferns was again a competitive effort, but would ultimately guarantee no semi-finals for the Queens. On the penultimate day of the group stage, Malawi destroyed Pool B battlers Trinidad & Tobago by 40 goals (70-30), before losing the crunch clash with fellow African nation, Uganda by 13 (43-56). That meant the Queens would compete in the seventh placed playoff instead of the fifth placed one, and take on Wales instead of South Africa. Though Wales did put up a fight, Malawi’s experience proved the difference and the Queens won by a narrow six goals (62-56) to lock up seventh spot at the event.


Malawi had some outstanding players, but two of the bookends were hard to go past. Unsurprisingly, Mwai Kumwenda – who 12 months ago was out recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury – was a class above many defenders, shooting 150 goals rom 162 attempts, pulling down four rebounds and even providing 11 goal assists from 15 feeds across the tournament. She was the dominant threat to team up with Joyce Mvula (70 goals from 84 attempts, four goal assists and seven rebounds), and Jane Chimaliro (32 goals from 35 attempts, 26 goal assists, two rebounds, two intercepts and four deflections. In defence, Towera Vinkhumbo was outstanding, pulling in a massive 15 intercepts, 24 deflections, two rebounds and handing off four goal assists despite being a circle defender.


Unfortunately for Malawi, the Queens only had one player represent them that was aged under 28, in the form of Shira Dimba. The 24-year-old midcourter played four games and managed three goal assists from five feeds and two deflections in limited minutes, with Mvula (28 years-old) the second youngest in the squad of 12. Still on the younger side of 30, Malawi also had defenders Martha Dambo (eight intercepts, three deflections) and Loreen Ngwira (three rebounds, two intercepts and five deflections).


Malawi has some talented players, particularly up either end, and is always capable of doing some damage. Though the Queens are one of the older sides at the Commonwealth Games, many would be expected to be around for the next one, though it will be exciting to see what youth can come through the program. With strong shooters and reliable defenders, the Queens can hold their own for the most part, just needing to find that midcourt piece to potentially crack into the top five.

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