The road to Liverpool for six African teams begins on Monday as the regional qualifiers for the Netball World Cup 2019 takes place in Lusaka, Zambia.
Two teams will seal their place for next year’s event over the six day round robin competition.
Uganda are the highest ranked side in the qualifying competition as they currently occupy 7th position on the INF World Rankings ladder. The She Cranes finished 8th in the 2015 Netball World Cup, held in Sydney, in what was only their second ever appearance at the event. Their only appearance at the event prior to that was in the 1979 tournament held in the Trinidad & Tobago. Will Peace Proscovia and co lead the She Cranes to a third World Cup?
Zimbabwe are the second highest ranked side, currently sitting at 13th. Zimbabwe have never qualified for the Netball World Cup, could Liverpool 2019 finally be their first appearance?
Two time qualifiers Zambia sit 17th in the INF World Rankings making them the third ranked side. Zambia were present at the last World Cup in Sydney and finished 14th. Their only appearance prior to this was in Christchurch 1999 where they finished 17th out of 26 participating teams. The hosts open the tournament on Monday afternoon.
Their opponents Botswana, sit just behind them in the INF World Ranking on 22nd. Botswana have also qualified for the Netball World Cup twice. Finishing 10th in Auckland 2007 and 13th in Singapore 2011. Can Botswana make a return to netball’s most prestigious event?
Namibia may be the lowest ranked side in the competition, but have already shown this year that they can be more than a match for some of the teams competing. Back in June, Namibia finished first place in a Quad series that featured Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Namibia defeated Zambia and Botswana, while losing by a single goal to Zimbabwe, en route to the title. Namibia’s last Netball World Cup appearance came in Birmingham 1995 which was the last time the event was held in England. An omen perhaps?
The INF’s newest member country Kenya, will be looking to qualify for their first ever Netball World Cup. This will be Kenya’s first appearance at the African Championships, making this, regardless of the result, a historic moment for Kenyan Netball.
As the qualifiers are also the African Championship this year, Malawi will also be competing at this event. Malawi have already qualified for next year’s Netball World Cup as they are ranked 6th in the INF World Rankings which made them eligible for automatic qualification. South Africa are the only other African team who have qualified automatically for next year’s event.
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