Kukoma Diamonds have claimed their second title in 2018-19 season after defeating Blue Eagles Sisters 37-35 in a pulsating final of the Presidential Netball Cup.
Diamonds supporters on crowd nine
In front of a new world record crowd approximately more than 2000 at Blantyre Youth Centre Arena, the Diamonds avenged last season’s defeat in the same cup against the same team.
A blistering opening quarter set up Blue Eagles victory with 6-7 lead but Diamonds withstood a spirited second quarter fightback with 18-17 lead.
Diamonds accuracy was the difference between the two sides as they had 11 more shots on goal than their opponent.
It was Alinafe Kamwala who notched in more baskets for Diamonds and praised the work done by the players in front of her.
“The drive to the circle was amazing; the girls were bringing the ball down really quickly and Jessica did a great job in keeping goal defence busy which kept me in a one-on-one situation which was perfect,” Kamwala said.
Another Diamonds experienced player Caroline Ngwira said she was proud of her team for bouncing back from their loss earlier in the first quarter.
“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 the likes of Towera Vinkhumbo, it’s wonderful to step into the defensive circle with such a wonderful athlete,” Ngwira said.
“A final Cup netball, that’s what it comes down to; hard work and just grinding away. Our attackers were just sensational and capitalised on every tip and touch that we got and the first quarter set us up nicely.”
Coach Griffin Saenda Jnr started with almost the same line-up from Saturday’s semi-final against Civonets with the likes of Sheila Dimba,Towera Vinkhumbo,Caroline Ngwira,Bridget Gawaza,Jessica Sanudi.
Blue Eagles also maintained their semi final squad as Takondwa Lwazi,Ruth Kaliyenda and Mary Banya were part of the squad.
The Eagles Sisters were the dominant team early but lost the energy in the last quarter.
For Diamonds, Caroline Ngwira and Towera Vinkhumbo were at their miserly best in defence and Kamwala and Sanudi were only too happy to convert their turnovers in attack.
Diamonds led by as much as 3 goals mid-way through the third quarter as the Diamonds wings Shiela Dimba and Bridget Gawaza continued to have a major influence and Kamwala was standing up to the intense pressure of the Blue Eagles defence.
But some brilliant long-range shooting by Takondwa Lwazi and Mary Banya late in the quarter saw the area 30 out fit cut the margin at half-time.
Blue Eagles tried to come back into the game but the clock beat them and the Diamonds players plus their supporters danced pelete before the Minister of Sports Grace Obama Chiume presented a glittering trophy to Kukoma Diamonds.
For being champions,Diamonds received K3 million while runners up Blue Eagles went home with K2 million.