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image Swaziland’s Hlengiwe Bhembe (L) wins the ball ahead of Zimbabwe’s Tinoza Paidamoyo.

(In Gaborone, Botswana)     
Zimbabwe .................................49
Swaziland ..................................35

GABORONE – The country’s netball side fought gallantly before losing to a flawless Zimbabwe by 35-49 yesterday.

After causing an upset, beating hosts Botswana by 44-42 in the opening game of the African Netball Championships the previous day, Thobile Nzama’s charges were hoping to maintain their great start when they met Zimbabwe in the second game at Botswana Netball Association Courts in Gaborone yesterday.

Led by proficient Goal Shooter (GS), Pauline Jani, who scored from every attempt, the hosts were leading by 26-12 at half time.  The country had paraded an unchanged starting team but the coach opted to make several changes at the start of the third quarter. In defence, Vumile was sacrificed for Bongiwe Magagula while Phindile Sithole made way for Ngeti Sibandze. Trusted and versatile GS, Ncamisile Dlamini replaced Sebenzile Nxumalo to partner with Jabu Khathwane upfront.

The changes gave the team the much needed mobility but the opposition kept their feet on the accelerator to enjoy a 37-22 lead after the third period.

Swaziland put their opponents under a lot of pressure in the deciding 15 minutes but it was a case of too little too late as home side completed a double over the visitor s. However, it was an improved performance as Zimbabwe had won 61-31 when the two sides met in the same tournament last year. Swaziland remain in pursuit of gold in the fifth edition of the championship.

They face win-less Tanzania today before the final game against heavyweights, Zambia the next day. The latter made light of work of Tanzania in their opener yesterday, winning by 55-37. Five out of the 10 expected countries are taking part in the tournament following the withdrawal of Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, Uganda and Namibia.

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