Kukoma Diamonds held off arch-rivals Tigresses to win the Presidential netball Cup with a thrilling 41-36 win in front of a packed Blantyre Youth Centre.
After a tight opening few minutes, it was Diamonds that got the crucial break through some brilliant defensive work from Captain Caroline ‘Ayuda’ Mtukule.
By the halfway mark of the first quarter, Tigresses had opened up a 3-0 lead, prompting an early-time-out from Diamonds to regroup before this quarter ended in 8-8.
Powerful shooter Alinafe gave Diamonds plenty of drive into attack as they extended their lead to 4 goals in the second quarter before it ended 22-18 in favour of Diamonds.
As they have done in their previous meetings, Diamonds locked Tigresses shooter Sindi ‘Sniper’ Simutowe through Caroline Mtukule and Towera Vinkhumbo who tamed her well.
The Diamonds were again spearheaded by an impressive shooting performance from Goal Shooter Alinafe , who partnered well with Jessica Sanudi.
Tigresses also missed a number of scoring opportunities in the third and last quarter through Simutowe and Ellen Chibokho.
Diamonds coach Peace Kaluwa could be seen on the touchline demanding more intensity and a greater defensive effort from her defender Grace Mhango and Lauren Ngwira, who displayed fantastic netball with interceptions.
Ngwira proved why she is one of the best goal keepers in the country by intercepting and deflecting, causing held balls and generally getting in the head of her opponent.
However, in the last quarter, fuel most of Tigresses players looked tired and their body language showed they had given up.
After the last whistle, Diamonds captain Caroline Mtukule hailed her friends for their fighting spirit.
“It’s been years with this particular playing group … building towards this moment,” Mtukule said. “To finish like that, in front of our home crowd, to have family here, and to play with that particular group of girls – to play with Towera – to me, it’s wonderful to be able to step into the defensive circle with such an awesome athlete.”
“We’re pleased we won the last three quarters, but it was a tough game but you’ve got to give props to them, they did really well.
“Our attackers today were sensational,” said Mtukule. “They capitalised on every little tip and touch that we got. That first quarter set us up nicely.”
“The supply to the circle was amazing. The girls were bringing the ball down really quick and Towera was doing a great job of keeping the goal defence busy, which put me in a one-on-one situation, which is perfect,” said Mtukule.
Tigresses goal keeper Lauren Ngwira said they got a little bit complacent, and conceded that Diamonds defence was pretty tough to break.
“Our friends were tough in defence and we also failed to utilize 60 percent of our scoring chances,” said Ngwira.
For being crowned champions, Diamonds went home with K4 million, while Tigresses received K2 million.
Thunder Queens came third after beating Civonets in a thrilling encounter.
In individual awards, the best goal shooter went to Alinafe of Diamonds, while Joana Kachilika of Thunder Queens got the best defender award.
Thandiwe Galeta of Thunder Queens also got the best centre award.
Frank Kandu from MBC got the best media award.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :