Desert Jewels narrowly lose out on gold

Namibia’s Desert Jewels reached the final of the Africa Netball Championships where they lost a thriller 57-55 to Zambia. File: contributed

Desert Jewels narrowly lost out on winning their first ever Africa Netball Championships after losing 57-55 to Zambia after extra time on Wednesday.

In a thrilling match, Namibia took a 13-11 lead by the end of the first quarter, but Zambia fought back to draw level at 23-23 by halftime. 

Zambia then took a 35-33 lead by the end of the third quarter, but Namibia fought back to draw level at 43-43 at full time. 

The match went into extra time, and despite Namibia leading for most of the time, Zambia made a strong comeback at the end to win the match 57-55. 

Despite the defeat, it was a great performance by the Desert Jewels who had reached their first ever final at the Africa Championships. 

It was Zambia’s second victory over Namibia at the tournament, after they had earlier also won their group match 52-42. Namibia, however, won their other three group matches, beating Zimbabwe 45-36, Kenya 43-30 and Eswatini 62-43.

At the prize giving ceremony, Namibia’s defender Loide Hanyanya won the Best Goal Defender of the Tournament award. 

Netball Namibia president Rebekka Goagoses hailed the team’s performance in a press release issued yesterday. 

“The Debmarine Desert Jewels exhibited exceptional talent, determination, and sportsmanship throughout the tournament, ultimately securing the silver medal position as the runner-up of the continental netball showpiece. Their outstanding performance, losing only one of the five robin matches and delivering an awe-inspiring final that ended 57-55 in favour of Zambia, has truly etched Namibia’s name in the annals of netball history,” she said. 

“Our appreciation extends to the players, coaches, and technical team for their gallant display of bravery, not succumbing to the challenges posed by formidable opponents such as Zambia. Despite the narrow defeat in extra time, the Debmarine Desert Jewels exceeded everyone’s expectations and have made us immensely proud. In addition to the team’s achievement, we are also elated that our defender, Loide Hanyanya was voted best Goal Defender of the tournament. We congratulate her for the individual award which is testimony to the teamwork and collective effort and support that the girls showed each other on the court,” it added. 

She also thanked the Namibian public for their support; their sponsor Debmarine Namibia for their financial and moral support; Spar Supermarket for their sponsorship of recovery snacks; and the government of Namibia, particularly the Ministry of Sport, Youth, and National Service, for their generous assistance, facilitating the team’s travel to Botswana and participation in the Africa Netball Cup. 

“As we celebrate this significant milestone, we look forward to the future with great optimism. Netball Namibia is committed to building on this success and has set its sights on qualifying for the Netball World Cup in 2027 and the Commonwealth Games. We will not rest on our laurels, and with the continued support of our sponsors, the government, and the Namibian public, we are confident that even greater achievements lie ahead,” she said.

“To our regional affiliates, we encourage you to draw inspiration from this achievement and continue your developmental efforts. The talent you nurture will contribute to the expansion of our player pool, ensuring a strong and competitive national team in the years to come,”she added.

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