HARARE-THE Zimbabwe Netball team, the Gems, have a mammoth task in their bid to make an impression in their debut appearance at the Netball World Cup after they were drawn in the same group with the world’s best-ranked team, Australia, for the premier competition in international netball set for Liverpool in July 2019.
The tournament will run from 12–21 July 2019 at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England.
The Gems, making their first ever appearance at the tournament, were drawn in Group A where they will face the world’s number one side as well as another powerhouse, Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka, following the draw in Nottingham at the weekend.
Zimbabwe are the third best-ranked team in the group at 13th position, with Northern Ireland at eighth, and was one of the eight seeded teams in the draw while Sri Lanka is down at number 26 on the rankings table.
The top three teams in each group advance to the second group stage.
The top two teams in the two groups of six in that second phase will then face off in the semi-finals.
Besides Zimbabwe, three other African countries will be at the Netball World Cup, being South Africa, ranked fifth, Malawi on sixth and Uganda on seventh position. Zimbabwe earned their place at the showpiece after finishing second at the African Netball Championship held in Zambia last month, a competition which was won by Uganda to also book their ticket.
South Africa and Malawi were among the five teams to be given automatic qualification by virtue of their high-ranking positions in the International Netball Federation World Rankings, together with Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica.
Host nation England was also granted automatic qualification.
Draw in full
Group A: Australia, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka
Group B: New Zealand, Malawi, Barbados, Singapore
Group C: Jamaica, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Fiji
Group D: England, Uganda, Scotland, Samoa-NewsDay