Complex Tigresses were on Sunday crowned Airtel Money Netball champions after mauling Diamonds 36-31 baskets in an entertaining encounter at the Blantyre Youth Centre and collected K7 million (about $16 700) winners’ prize.
Tigresses successfully made history to become the first team to clinch the richest netball cup in Malawi in a game which was well patronized.
Both teams took the game physically in a game which saw tempers flare amongst the players.
However, Tigresses made it clear from the start that Diamonds would not easily get the trophy as they led by the end of each quarter 9-7, 20-14 and 28-24 before hitting the last nail on Diamonds coffin with a 36-31 margin.
It was the usual slippery goal shooter Sindi ‘Sniper’ Simutowe, who gave Diamonds defense a tough ride as she defied Caroline ‘Ayuda’ Ngwira imposing height and avoided a physical game to lead her side to victory.
On the other end Sarudzai Gondwe tried her level best to give Grace Mhango and Lauren Ngwira, who was on top of her game but was left lone to do the battle with the absence of Jessica Sanudi.
The match was stopped several times due to injuries with Diamonds being the main casualties
After the game, Tigresses coach Peace Kaluwa was jovial to win the silverware
“I am satisfied that our effort and hard work have paid off. We fought tooth and nail by denying Diamonds enough space to manoeuvre,” Kaluwa said.
Kaluwa praised her charges for being outstanding in the entire the Airtel Money Netball Championships national encounters.
Diamonds coach Griffin Saenda said the absence of some of his key players affected their game plan but congratulated their rivals for their victory.
“It is always painful losing on final day but all in all let us congratulate our friends for their victory,” Saenda said.
The national finals which threw off on Friday saw Zomba Airwing Sisters making history when they became the first unseeded team to sail through to the quarter-finals of the tournament.
Airwing together with Woget Stars, Young Gals, Young Sisters, Splash Queens, Prison Sisters, Mimosa Queens and Green Sisters earned their qualification to the national finals through regional encounters.
Netball Association of Malawi President Rose Chinunda hailed Airtel Malawi for fulfilling its pledge through the pilot phase of the Cup including pumping a lot of money in the game.
Airtel Money Country Director, Andrew Santhe said the company was happy to be associated with success hence their assistance towards netball development in the country.
“Airtel is particularly happy to note that apart from reinvigorating netball spirits in general, Airtel Money netball cup has seen even some little known netball teams rising to stardom by reaching the final stages of the cup which is quite impressive,” Santhe observed.
He said, through the Airtel Money Cup his company hopes to groom budding netball youngsters to pursue their dreams on the world stage through the sponsorship.
For clinching championship, Complex Tigresses were given K7 million while the loosing finalists Diamonds received K2.5 million while Blue Eagles Sisters beat Civonets 53-42 in the third-placed match to take home the K750 000 (about $1 785) prize.
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