THE netball national team will today face highly ranked South Africa for a place in the finals at the ongoing Africa netball World Cup qualifiers after suffering a narrow defeat against Malawi yesterday.

The Charles Zulu coached side gave their all against neighbours Malawi for the top spot finish in a highly contested fixture that characterised action from end to end to the jubilation of the crowds that had thronged the netball courts to have glance at the ongoing championships.

Malawi started the game on a high, scoring five goals in a row that saw them end the first quarter leading Zambia 15-7 as they enjoyed their height advantage.

The second quarter saw Zambia reduce the difference to end the quarter with scores 32-27, thanks Diana Banda, Besiya Katete and Doreen Kasehela for being on target.

Zambia continued to attack in search of goals but Malawi maintained their stance in defence and only saw the Zulu coached side manage to finish the third quarter 44-36.

The final result 61-44 meant Zambia will today face top group finishers in Pool A South Africa in the semi-final for a place in the finals at 15:00 hours while the early kick will see Group A winners Malawi face off with Zimbabwe who suffered a 69-42 defeat.

With South Africa and Uganda having qualified for the World Cup already by virtue of being the top two ranked sides, Zambia, Malawi and Botswana will battle for the remaining two slots.

Should Zambia lose to South Africa and Malawi beat Zimbabwe, it means the Zulu coached side will have to fight for a third place finish in order to qualify.

Coach Zulu said losing was painful but was quick to state that the result should motivate the team to give their all against South Africa in the semifinals.

Zulu said the team played according to instructions but were unlucky to end on the losing end.

“The team played well but we were just unfortunate to end on the losing end. Malawi is highly ranked and enjoyed their height advantage. We gave them too much respect in the first quarter and our ladies took time to settle in the game. We have hence shifted focus to the game against South Africa in the semifinals but we are confident the girls will qualify for the World Cup,” said Zulu.