Business is expected to come to a standstill at the magnificent MPICO Gateway Mall in Lilongwe’s Area 47 Sunday afternoon as all eyes will set on the Gateway Mall Netball Court, where central region netball giants Blue Eagles Sisters and Civonets will be battling for the K1.5 million top prize in the K8 million MPICO Gateway Mall Netball Challenge.
The two regional netball heavyweights stormed the final Saturday after seeing off their semi-final opponents in games played at the same court.
Eagles Sisters booked their final birth after defeating Green Sisters 53-22 with Civonets labouring to a 32-29 against Mafco Soldiers in a tight throat affair, which could have gone either way.
Civo were without six key players- centre Rose Mkanda, goalkeepers Colleta Mwalilino and Esther Katungwe, wing defender Azita Chiwanga and goal attackers Deliwe Lungu and Maureen Mopiha, who sneaked out to Harare on Friday to take part in a three-day basketball tournament which has attracted two Malawian basketball teams- Lady Brave Hearts and Bravehearts Men.
The six Civonets stars, who play for Lady Bravehearts defied orders from their officials and went ahead to travel to Harare as their team prepared for the Gateway Netball finals.
Despite the absence of the six, coach Reuben Luhanga is confident that his girls can pull a surprise against a full strength Eagles Sisters.
“I cannot hide that we have been greatly affected by the absence of the six player but we have confidence in the remaining players. We still have players like Tina Kamzati, who plays for the Queens as centre, goal attacker Jane Chimaliro, who was player of the tournament during the Airtel Money Netball tournament, Under 21 national team goalkeeper Brenda Lwazi and wing defender Liana Mtenje, whom we signed from Thunders,” said Luhanga.
Eagles’ Sisters assistant coach Madano Tepetheya dismissed suggestions that his side would be at an advantage with the absence of the six senior players in the opponents’ camp.
“We do not have an advantage. Chances for both teams are still 50-50. Civonets is a big team just like our team and every player that we sign is capable of delivering the goods. We are not focusing on the developments in Civonets camp and will just play our usual game,” said Tepetheya.
The female cops are likely to bank their hopes on Queens’ centre Takondwa Lwazi and goal attacker Salome Nkhoma.
Winner of the afternoon tie will walk away with a trophy and K1.5 million with the losing finalists pocketing K1 million. Losing semi-finalists Mafco and Green Sisters will battle for the K800,000 third prize. The fourth team will go away with K500,000, with the rest of the top eight sharing K350,000, 250,000 and K200,000 respectively.
There will also be individual prizes for best shooter, best centre, best defender and the overall best player.