In 2007, Malawi famously defeated South Africa to register a significant fifth place in Auckland. Their win today ensures they will be competing in the fifth-place play-off match for the fourth consecutive World Cup.
If they are to equal their exploits of 12 years ago, they will need to find a way past world number two, Jamaica. Uganda, meanwhile, will hope to go one better than their eighth place in Sydney in 2015, when they take on tournament newcomers Zimbabwe in the play-off for seventh.
Malawi took advantage of early Ugandan nerves, racing into a 4-0 lead as Joyce Mvula wasted no time in finding her scoring touch.
Rachael Nanyonga was the first to register for Uganda, however there was no knocking Mvula from her stride, and when Lilian Ajio’s pass went astray, Malawi extended their lead to five.
Jane Chimaliro got in on the scoring act to take the score to 11-6, before, in the opposite circle, Peace Proscovia was penalised for footwork.
She soon made amends though, and Uganda cut the deficit to just three as they began to compete more effectively. Their momentum was halted when Nanyonga took too long on the ball and another overthrown pass gave Malawi opportunity to extend the lead, but an interception allowed Uganda to narrow to 12-9 at the quarter break.
More Ugandan wastefulness at the start of the second quarter was punished, as the lead went out to five. Malawi then looked to have returned the favour, when untidy passing presented Uganda with the ball, but they were unable to capitalise.
Mvula then scored her 15th – and Malawi’s 20th – goal of the game to take the lead out to 20-14, as Malawi were able to exploit the space behind Uganda’s mid-court players.
Malawi ended the half as they had started, firing on all cylinders to hold a 27-19 advantage at the break.
Mary Nuba Cholock stepped into the Uganda attack for the second half, and her presence made a difference immediately as she registered two early strikes.
An enormous leap by Proscovia, now playing goal attack, helped Uganda pull back to 32-27, and the crowd inside the M&S Bank Arena sensed that a comeback could be on.
However this hope was dampened by more loose possession from the She Cranes.
Cholock and Proscovia were still proving a potent combination, but Mvula was equally effectively at the other end, landing the final goal of the quarter to make the score 41-35.
Uganda wasted their first centre pass of the fourth and the deficit was back to seven. Cholock was then penalised, and a long pass gave Mvula the opportunity to extend the lead to 43-36.
A stretching interception from Stella Oyella at centre should have led to the margin being reduced, but once again the opportunity went begging.
Chimaliro got in amongst the goals for Malawi as time began to run out for the Ugandans, as she took the Queens’ lead out to 49-41.
Mvula took the advantage into double figures, and while Nanyonga registered the game’s final goal, the celebrations on the final whistle belonged to Malawi.
Not to be outdone by the post-game rhythm of the Zimbabweans, the Queens brought their own exuberance and energy to the court – celebrating their qualification for the fifth-place play-off with their vocal fans.