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Zambia Calls Up Youth Footballer to FIFA World Cup

FILE — Zambia's coach Bruce Mwape at a football draw ceremony for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup held in Auckland, New Zealand, Oct. 22, 2022

Zambian football authorities Friday called up 18-year-old goalkeeper Leticia Lungu to play for the national squad at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, set to kick off in Auckland, New Zealand, next Thursday.

The Football Association of Zambia, FAZ, announced Lungu's call up after Hazel Nali, the team's starting goalkeeper, was reported to be out of the global tournament due to injury.

FAZ said Wednesday Nali had suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament, ACL, during training in Germany.

Lungu was part of a 35-player provisional squad but did not make the final cut after coach Bruce Mwape picked his choices including Nali, Kazakhstan-based Catherine Musonda and Nkwazi Queens' Eunice Sakala for goalkeeper tasks at the World Cup.

The "Copper Queens" were forced to play their final World Cup preparation match against Germany without their starting goalkeeper.

Despite Nali's absence, the southern African nation defeated Germany 3-2, with Musonda as the player protecting their goalposts.

Barbra Banda, Zambia’s captain, spoke to media upon arrival to their training camp in New Zealand, where she applauded their victory over Germany.

Banda said beating Germany placed the "Copper Queens" in high gear.

"It was a good game for us and good preparation for the World Cup," Banda said, adding, "Germany is not a push over team, but I think we tried our best and at the end of the day we carried three maximum points and that was important for us."

Zambia are set to debut their FIFA World Cup campaign against Japan, the winners of the 2011 edition, on July 22.

This report was compiled by VOA’s Mike Hove with information from the Football Association of Zambia and Reuters.