Malawi’s playing group have taken a public swipe at their own star goal shooter in a bizarre subplot to the early stages of the Netball World Cup.
Malawi, ranked sixth in the world, opened their campaign with a win over Scotland before losing to England 62-39 in their second game.
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But the Malawi camp were frustrated they couldn’t make it a closer game against England as Mwai Kumwenda reportedly refused to take the court on Saturday.
After the peculiar decision not to have Kumwenda start the game, Malawi’s coach asked her to come off the bench with two minutes left in the first half.
She stayed on the bench until the last quarter, but England had opened up a 19-goal lead by then.
The goal shooter’s teammates posted a video to social media appearing to blame the Melbourne Vixens star for the loss to England. Kumwenda did not appear in the video.
Kumwenda said after the game she didn’t come on to the court because she didn’t believe she had enough time to properly warm up to enter the game at the coach’s just before halftime.
“I was doing my warm up,” the 33-year-old said.
“But coach has got his own plans. I was just excited to see the other girls playing today.
“It was two minutes so I couldn’t get in. Two minutes is hard, professional player like me is very hard. I need to warm up and have more time.”
Fox Netball’s Hannah Hollis described it as “a mutiny within the Malawi camp”.
Commentator Sue Gaudion explained: “The Malawi Queens have come out on Twitter and based off the loss to England yesterday, almost blaming Mwai Kumwenda for the fact that she was asked to take the court just shy of the halftime time break and refused to come on court. “
They’re not happy. There’s obviously some distrust or a fallout in the camp.”
Australian Diamond Madi Browne added: “It’s obviously sad to see them go to Twitter and air this dirty laundry in a way.
“The coach stated ‘We want to use her as an impact player, we don’t always want to start her in the game’.
“She was asked to come on two minutes before the halftime break but didn’t. We know she’s a superstar player, we know she loves to play. So it’s a little bit confusing. There’s two sides to the story.”
Meanwhile, Australia started its campaign with comfortable wins over Zimbabwe and Tonga.
The Diamonds are looking to make it three wins on the trot against Fiji on Sunday.