ZAMBIA netball national team coach Charles Zulu has described the team’s failure to qualify for the 2023 World Cup to hosted by South Africa as painful and disappointing.

And Ministry of Sports permanent secretary Kangwa Chileshe says government is proud of the team’s performance despite failing to qualify for the World Cup.

Zambia suffered a 59-41 defeat at the hands of rivals Zimbabwe in the third place play off that had attracted a huge crowd at the University of Pretoria’s Rembrandt Hall in South Africa.

The loss to Zimbabwe meant Zambia finished fourth at the just ended Africa Netball World Cup Qualifiers and missed out on qualification.

“We have failed to qualify to the World Cup and to be honest it’s painful and disappointing for us. We appreciate the efforts that the girls have put in except we didn’t do well in the turnovers. We could have done better but it’s the name of the game. We pick the lessons and move on,” Zulu said.

Zulu said most of the players in the team were young and was confident Zambia would qualify for the next edition of the World Cup.

“We need a little bit of exposure going forward and play more of highly ranked teams otherwise the small mistakes we were making costed us especially that the game was 50-50,” he said.

“We have leant a lot of lessons and the girls need a lot of psyching and encouragement from the public as you can see they are devastated. They fought throughout the game but their all was not enough. We pick the lessons and encourage the girls because they are growing and we have players graduating from under-20 going forward.”

Asked what next for the team, Zulu said the team needs to improve it’s statistics and make use of the next international engagements.

Zimbabwe led from the first quarter till the final quarter.

The first quarter saw Zimbabwe edge Zambia 16-12 before finishing the second quarter 30-26.

As the game progressed, Zambia lost the steam to fight back and Zimbabwe grew in confidence, finishing the third quarter with scores 43-32 and there was no way of coming back as the game ended 59-41.

Zimbabwe joined Malawi, South Africa and Uganda to represent Africa at next year’s World Cup to be hosted in Africa for the first time.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Sports permanent secretary Kangwa Chileshe said government is proud of the team’s performance despite failing to qualify for the World Cup.

“We are proud of the team’s performance despite the loss. They gave their best but their best wasn’t enough on the day. Every game comes with a win or lose and we encourage the team to pick up the pieces. We urge the team to remain focused and look forward to other international engagements. As government, we remain committed to supporting all sporting disciplines in the country. We want them to know that government has their back,” said Chileshe.