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Zambia Suffers Double Blow Ahead of World Cup-Chanda Ruled Out

World Cup debutants Zambia have faced a significant setback ahead of their Group C opener against Japan on Saturday as they confirmed the unavailability of their key attacking midfielder, Grace Chanda. The influential 26-year-old player, a former captain of the team, has been ruled out of the tournament due to illness, according to team officials.

This marks the second major withdrawal for coach Bruce Mwape’s side, following the serious knee injury of first-choice goalkeeper Hazel Nali last week. Nali was replaced in the squad by 18-year-old Leticia Lungu.

Zambia team doctor, Faith Chibeza, didn’t provide further details regarding Chanda’s illness but an inside source revealed that she had been hospitalized for treatment.

“Grace Chanda has been taken ill, and unfortunately, she won’t be able to take part in the tournament. We have done everything we can to help her, and she is receiving all the necessary attention,” said Chibeza.

With 28 caps for Zambia and 15 goals scored for her country, Chanda’s absence will be felt deeply. However, the team is looking to young talent to fill the void, as 18-year-old Comfort Selemani steps in to replace her. Selemani was initially part of the preliminary selection but narrowly missed the final cut.

Despite these challenges, coach Mwape expressed confidence in his team’s abilities. He remains optimistic that the Copper Queens can compete against any opponent in the tournament, drawing motivation from their surprising 3-2 friendly victory over world number two, Germany, a fortnight ago.

“As far as I am concerned, we are not underdogs. The only ones who might think that are our opponents. We don’t think that, we regard ourselves as a big team that can challenge any other team in the world,” Mwape stated.

He also emphasized the team’s extensive preparation over the past two months, believing that they are fully ready to take on any opponent in the World Cup.