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Zambia's Copper Queens Dealt World Cup Blow

FILE — Zambia's starting goalkeeper Hazel Nali reacts during a match against Netherlands at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics held in Japan, July 21,2021.

Zambian football authorities Wednesday announced that their women's national team set to play in the upcoming 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup will perform without their starting goalkeeper, Hazel Nali.

Officials in the southern African nation took to Twitter to announce that Nali will miss the tournament due to a serious knee ligament injury.

Reuben Kamanga, the General-Secretary of the Football Association of Zambia, FAZ, said on Twitter Nali was ruled out after missing a friendly match against Germany and a series of medical examinations.

Nali's injury adds her to a long list of international players that will miss the World Cup due to injury.

Other players ruled out of contention are England’s captain Leah Williamson, the Euro 2022 Golden Boot winner Beth Mead and Fran Kirby. United States's top scorer Mallory Swanson is also sidelined for the tournament.

Despite news of Nali’s injury, Zambia’s “Copper Queens” continue to aspire for excellence at the global football tournament as they make their debut at the global cup.

Speaking to journalists at their arrival in New Zealand, Zambia’s captain Barbra Banda said they hope to make it to the World Cup finals.

"I think our aim and target as a team is to move from the first round, to get into the second round and probably maybe go to the finals," Banda said.

The Copper Queens are set for their World Cup debut where they will face Japan, the 2011 champions, on July 22. The cup is being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

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