Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Copper Queens goalkeeper Hazel Nali speaks out

… “My Injury Is Not Life Threatening That I Should Leave The World Cup”


… “In fact The Technical Bench Initially Thought I Was Faking The Injury”

… “Yes! We Protested, As A Team, Over Allowances Before The Ireland Friendly”

Copper Queens first choice goalkeeper Hazel Nali has revealed that her injury is not life threatening to warrant her exclusion from the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup describing the announcement that she was heading for treatment and subsequently being excused from the competition as surprising and devastating.

Speaking in an EXCLUSIVE interview with this writer Friday, July 15, 2023, Nali says she was in the dark about circumstances surrounding her injury and the subsequent decision to exclude her from the competition.

The player has since declined to append her signature on a consent form that would be sent to FIFA announcing she was no longer part of the Zambian delegation as no convincing explanation has been availed to her on the injury and treatment process.

Nali, the goalkeeper who scored the winning penalty and saved another in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) quarterfinal against Senegal to inspire the Copper Queens to a maiden World Cup in Australia and New Zealand by reaching the last four, says she has failed to understand why she has been treated like an alien on the team she has served for 11 years.

Although Nali admits that she is injured, she doubts it is the reason she is being asked to leave the competition.

“The situation is that yeah, I am injured. So, I got injured before the Germany game. I got injured in training and when I got injured, the technical bench didn’t believe that I got injured. They were saying I just faked it.

“When they were saying that, I was in a room with Barbara Banda who called the coach just to confirm everything because he never asked me what the situation was or how I was feeling.

“So I told Barbara, looking at where we have come from. I told her to say, can you call the coach to say what he thinks about me or how he sees things so she called the coach and the coach didn’t know that I was there [in the room].

“So that’s how he explained to say that, ah on Hazel’s situation, all that we are seeing is that she is faking an injury. She doesn’t even have any pain.

“So, I stayed quiet. I didn’t say anything. Then after three or four days, I said okay let me prove a point to everyone that I am really in pain because I am the one feeling it. Then I told the medical team that let me go for training and try, so that’s how I went for training and I got twisted because my knee was weak. We were playing a ka small-sided game then I got twisted again.. That’s how come I didn’t manage to finish that training session,” she narrates.

Nali explains that when she picked the second knock, the medical team appeared to pay a little more attention but there was demand from the goalkeeper coach for an urgent assessment to determine the way forward.

“From there that’s where maybe they believed to say I was really injured. So, the goalkeeper coach gathered me and the medical team to say the team wants to know if this injury is very serious so that we replace you because we are not ready to start nursing injuries at this point.

“So that’s when the medical team told the coach, no… she was injured, when she got injured everyone was there so how is it hard for you people to understand to say that she is injured.

“And that was after the final team was announced. So for them, they were assuming to say that just because the final team has been announced I am…uh faking the injury. So, that’s how that discussion ended. And they said, we will do an MRI for her to see what the problem really is but we didn’t manage to do it from Germany because we were leaving the following day.

“So, then that’s when they said, go with the team then we will have the MRI done as soon as you reach New Zealand. So when we came here [in New Zealand], we had the MRI done but the results weren’t given to the doctor there and then. The [MRI] doctor said he will send them to the [team] doctor. So later in the evening that’s when the doctor came into my room to say the results have been sent.

“And they didn’t show me the results. And I haven’t seen them up to now. So that’s when they started saying one of your ligaments in your knee has been torn so you need to undergo a surgery.

“So I started asking to say if really one of the ligaments in the leg has been torn, how come I am able to walk, I am able to do everything. I am not limping. The only pain I am having is when I bend my knee besides that I am not having any pain,” she explained.

Nali says she did not get convincing answers on the prognosis of her injury.

“So for them they only said ah, we don’t know but that’s the report we have got so you need to go back to Zambia and wait because the surgery has to be done if not from Zambia then India or South Africa. So they told me you need to go to Zambia then after you are in Zambia they will start processing.

“But again in that statement the doctor said when you are in Zambia they will start assessing you again or maybe they’ll need to do other tests. So, I was confused. I didn’t reply to anything at that point.

“So that’s when I sat and I told the captains and some of the players in the team. So everyone was surprised and they were shocked because looking at what the doctors examined and how the situation seems, it seems to be different,” she said.

Nali engaged team captain Barbara Banda to reach out to FAZ officials to clarify the situation.

“So I called Barbara again. I told her, no… you are in the right position to talk to the GS or the TD at FAZ. And ask what really the problem is. So she called again in my presence including some other players, the senior players. She was asking the TD first to say what’s the situation, we are just from reading because I confronted her when it was published to say I have been ruled out of the FIFA World Cup because of the injury.

“So then they said she has an injury but she needs to fly back to Zambia so that she can have some tests done and later on she can fly to do her surgery. So Barbara said, we had an example of me, there was me at the WAFCON, I was there with the team. I didn’t play in any of the games but I sat with the team and I benefited from whatever they got so what is the difference with Hazel and her being here? So they said no, we have already done the arrangement of replacing her and if she has to stay then we need to negotiate with her about the allowances.

“So then she [Barbara] asked again to say but how do you have to negotiate with her because she was already on the list and she is already in the FIFA system? He then said no, I will call you back. That’s when he had to cut [the line],” she added.

Nali said since FAZ technical director Lyson Zulu did not give a satisfactory explanation, the team captain then reached out to FAZ General Secretary Reuben Kamanga.

“And from there Barbara again called the GS. The GS started explaining, no I am not there physically but I am entrusting in the medical team and the medical team are the ones that have given me the information to say she is unable to walk, she is limping so she needs medical attention as soon as possible so that’s why we wrote to say she needs to fly back here and make arrangements on what’s next.

“Then Barbara asked the GS to say, how about the allowances, how is it going to work out because she was already on the list. So for him, he just said ah… that’s not a problem we can handle that. I was there and Barbara said Hazel is here, you can talk to her so I started talking to him. So for him, he only gave me an assurance to say I will give you a call because right now I am busy. I will give you a call when I am done with the meeting. Then I said, oh… okay.

“That was the day before yesterday [Wednesday] in the night. So, from then he didn’t call up to today he hasn’t called me to tell me about anything. So that’s when we sat and Barbara again went to the coaches to find out because from the time I got injured, none of the coaches have come to ask me okay, how are you feeling? Is it really that you can’t do anything? You can’t manage to do anything or maybe are you progressing on the injury? None of them… they took the decision when they were thinking to say I faked an injury. That’s when they decided everything so what followed next after that doesn’t really count because the decision of replacing me and taking me out of the tournament was done earlier even before the tests were conducted,” she said.

Nali says she feels shunned and isolated by the Zambian medical team and technical staff as none has taken keen interest to attend to her injury.

“I have not been attended to by the medical team. I am just walking like this. And from my own side, if really what they are saying is true because I texted the team doctor to say I want to see the results, I want to send them to my agent, but she has not replied.

“What is hurting me is; I have been with the team from 2012 and the technical team knows me and what I can do.

“When I was injured the first time, they could have called me to ask to say, okay, is it really an injury or maybe there is just something behind this. Is what we are thinking right to say maybe you are just faking an injury,” she lamented.

Nali says it is not the first time a member of the Copper Queens remained with the team for a tournament under her prevailing circumstances.

“They never confronted me up to date. They never talked to me about anything. My other concern is, we have had Barbara at the WAFCON, but we stood up for her; we were there for her. We have had Catherine Musonda in 2018, she got injured before the tournament. We had a friendly game against Ivory Coast, we lost 7-0. She got injured before the tournament started and we stayed with her till the tournament ended. And she benefitted from whatsoever was given to us because she was one of us,” she says.

Nali wonders whether the Copper Queens technical staff have taken into consideration her welfare, especially that she sacrificed her job at the club, Fatih Vatan Spor, to attend national team duty, a situation that led to the termination of her contract.

“I mean the technical team, what they are forgetting is that even if they send me today home, where will I start from? Because in the beginning, they made me lose a contract at my club. I was fired because of their poor communication. They didn’t communicate to the team about my traveling when we had friendly games before the official camp for this World Cup – the friendly games that we had in South Korea. They didn’t communicate properly with the team so the team got upset and they had to cut off my contract so as we stand I don’t have any running contract with any team.

“Those are the things also they are forgetting to say if they are to send me back home today maybe because they thought I was faking an injury or maybe I just had my own things, where will I start from? They have announced to the country to say I have been replaced and without talking to me or even coming to me asking how I am feeling.

“I feel I am recovering. The way I was, I was failing to completely bend the knee but now at least I am able to bend my knee. I am only having slight pain. When I am seated, when I am walking I am not having any pain,” she said.

Asked why she was being treated in this manner, Nali says, “with all honesty, I honestly don’t know because that’s the same question I am asking myself up to now.”

However, Nali confirmed allegations the Copper Queens raised issue with their allowances some of which date beyond this period but denied she was the ring leader explaining that as one of the senior players, she felt obliged to query the issue.

“On that part, we had a meeting with the team. And we sat the whole lot of us talking about the allowances because FAZ has been owing us money before the World Cup. They have a lot of our allowances so we talked as senior players and then later on everyone on the team we agreed to say we need to speak out.

“And the only time I spoke, that was when Barbara was speaking. That time she was speaking on behalf of the team and then she was speaking with the GS. When she finished talking to him; the GS himself is the one who asked, ‘is there anyone else that has anything to say?’ That’s when I said, yeah, I have something to say. And the things that I said, I did not talk about anything besides what we were discussing as a team and I said it in front of all my teammates. I did not say it elsewhere or maybe just me claiming for the monies, everyone was there and everyone was agreeing because the GS was on the phone call and it was only one or two people to talk on behalf of the team. And on that program, it was Grace, Barbara and me because Grace and Barbara are the captains and me sometimes I only stand out because of… if you go back in the record of us you’ll find that most of the times I would be pointed to speak on behalf of the team. Maybe if Barbara is not there… remember at the WAFCON I was not the captain but because I have the ability to stand for the team, they would point out to say okay Hazel can you stand to talk to us about this and this. So that’s the only program that was there were money is concerned,” she said

Nali confirmed that the players were given about $500 (about K8,500) after the Ireland match which they nearly boycotted.

“We decided that we are not going to play the friendly game. We protested the very day of the game in the morning. That’s when we spoke and then they told us that no, we are working on that. We know what we are owing you so you will start receiving your monies anytime from now. No, we had that meeting a day before but we stood to say we are not going to play the game if nothing is done so that’s how come on the day of the game they deposited that amount in every account,” she said.

Asked if the team was advised on the actual figures of their outstanding balances, Nali responded, “no they didn’t say it. Even when they deposited that money, they didn’t specify what it was for. They gave it to everyone.”

Nali complained that her injury situation had been blown out of proportion for reasons best known to those doing so.

“I just wanted justice for me because in as much as they might have their own reasons of which I don’t know, they are just telling me its because of the injury that I have been left out or maybe sidelined, but for me again I am refusing to that because I am feeling much better than I was and if I had time like to be with the team, I feel I could have recovered and maybe played games here,” she said.

Last night, Nali was asked to sign a release form in the presence of the delegation leader and the team doctor which was to be transmitted to FIFA to confirm she will no longer be part of the tournament but she declined to do so.

When contacted, both FAZ General Secretary Reuben Kamanga and Technical Director Lyson Zulu’s calls went unanswered.

[Augustine Mukoka]

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    • You mean to stop the medical team from doing its job?
      I believe in Zambia we have jokers. This is the same issue we have with Kalu wanting to be life president of the FA.
      If the medical team let her play in a competitive game and aggravates her injury who is to blame? People will be like Kamanga this Kamanga that…

      • If you took time to read everything, you could have gotten the point! If injured, let her at the tournament and give her all the benefits she deserves simple

      • It’s not just allowing her to play, but she must be allowed to stay with the team to the end. Removing her from the team and sending her back home has its effects not yet seen. Trust me. Her absence will affect the performance in one way or the other.

      • Boss, do you want her out of the team without proper evidence and without negotiations on her allowance? Are you Kamanga’s spokesperson now? Reason before you come out to speak. This is someone’s career you are talking about. Zambia can never improve with this kind of mindsets. Spirit of Jealous must be dealt with decisively. I sense Malice and mischief on the whole issue but GOD will never sleep nor slumber for His children.

    • She will be paid what has accrued to her for sure but not any allowances after the start of the WC. She wants to benefit while nursing an injury what happens if one of the remaining two or both gets injured?

      • You people be realistic and considerate. These FAZ guys have a hidden agenda over this issue according to her narration. Be fair with her as she has put in a lot. Stop those monkey tricks please. She deserves to be at the WC up to finish!! Why are so selfish you people?

        • These idiots are the reason why our young stars don’t get motivated. These are same pipo who ends up asking something I return from our girls i.e sex, in exchange for favors. You shall be exposed soon!!!

  1. I can see a law suit here Nali… In my opinion, the prospects of success are high. Just gather your facts well. Find good counsel & damages relating to your contract termination, pending allowances & prospective allowances may be recovered. ✓

    • Ummmm,,,, thinking in those lines already,, which contract is terminated here…?

      Don’t mislead the young girl..

  2. I do agree with people who call this gentleman a spirit of confusion. We shall be watching as you completely destroy this girl’s career because now FAZ will take it that she is telling you things and you will see how she will be forever sidelined after all that other goalkeeper is equally very good. While you may think you are championing a noble cause, you will in time discovered that you killed this girl because even the club she plays for are now monitoring her activities in this matter and they will deem her a danger to their players rather a bad influence who links info to the media

    • I disagree with the way you feel; therefore, you are suggesting that Nali should be silent, correct? This is the reason why Africa is so impoverished and why things are not as they should be. Imagine for a moment that Nali was your daughter or your sister. I wholeheartedly concur with Augustine Mukoka’s point of view; how are we supposed to celebrate these women in the World Cup when one of their own is being handled in such an inhumane manner? I have been on this blog ever since it started and I am here to support Hazel Nali.

      I stand with our Girls and Hazel Nali

    • A lying spirit is now using you to scandalize and for character assassination for this girl. How dare you start talking about her club she plays for here when she too needs clarity on her situation. If everyone doesn’t want to hear her and doesn’t care, she must burry her head in sand abi? My friend, don’t you know that a closed mouth is a closed destiny. If she had been quiet were you even going to comment anything here?

  3. That’s the beginning of decline, we always beg for crying, AFCON we created tears for ourselves by denying BB11 world up similar thing is coming up

  4. The post has a lot of contradictions
    1. “I told the TD and the MT that I was injured but they thought I was faking it.”
    2. “I twisted my knee in training after my initial injury.”
    3. “I believe I can recover and play some games.”
    4. “We supported Barbara when she was excluded from WAFCON and why not me.”
    5. “Where do I start if I am excluded from the WC?”
    I believe this is a very demanding competition which requires players to very fit both physically and mentally. From the post the young lady has shown none.
    I stand to be corrected…

    • She said after injury faking allegations, she went to the ground to train that is where she twisted the ankle or kaya knee

    • Boss, Stop all this. Keep all your analysis to yourself. We don’t need to correct you. Be in her shoe and correct yourself.

  5. I was take stories written by this gentleman with several grains if salt. While FAZ is not clean on how the deal with issues regarding player selection, I feel that the truth lies between what this man writes and what FAZ is saying. This reminds me of the dropping of Karim Benzema by France prior to the world cup. The player thought he would recover and be part of the team but the coach thought otherwise. The coaching staff have to make decisions that are in the best interest of the team and that may mean picking fully fit players over slightly injured very good players. I frankly don’t know what is going in our camp but I wish player selection was left to the coaches and not FAZ suits. I wish Nali well and she will be sorely missed at the worldcup. I only pray that FAZ is not subortaging the team by creating a fake narrative regarding her status as this would amount to treason of the highest order. Good luck to our ladies and hope these distractions don’t affect their performance

  6. I wonder what we gain as a nation when write stories like these. First it was the sex scandal now it’s Naligate. Should we expect good results with stories like this?

    • What is different between this… because the reason why she can’t play it’s because of the same injury 🩸🤕 that is troubling her always….now if she starts playing with the club team, the injury 🤕🩸 would be come worse painful than that

  7. Just retire from National team and continue with your club teams. I can see these Zambian Faz they don’t deserve your good works.

  8. Regardless the inconsistencies SHOW HER THE RESULTS. The girl like all the others has worked so hard for the team. Let her watch the world cup then come back. She was silly though to train and exacerbate the injury just to prove she was injured. If she was truly injured the tests would have vindicated her.

  9. Please let the Plarer stay with the team, why is it that when a mistake happens people in charge fail address the issues we are going in a very serious games why leaving players like Hazel. Faz should not take things like that the player has said her part and the nation Wants her at world Cup.

    • Let justice prevail in this matter let the lady go with the team so she can also benefit in all allowances remember like she has put it , she has lost contracts on the head of the country Team. This is business do not push her into frustrations.
      If the action you are taking is to punish her for being the Voice for the voiceless then you are wrong.

  10. You people be realistic and considerate. These FAZ guys have a hidden agenda over this issue according to her narration. Be fair with her as she has put in a lot. Stop those monkey tricks please. She deserves to be at the WC up to finish!! Why are so selfish you people?

  11. This is not the way to go. FAZ have to sit down and review their minds otherwise they will slowly loosing the players because injuries are still coming in team . In her presence it’s unfair to the team and supporters as well . what would have been affected when she is there associating with her teammates even just giving great support.

  12. Why can’t you keep her there so that she can recover with free mind than sending her home thus why you have three goalkeepers.

  13. Find win win solution FAZ. She is just a hard working young lady. There is lots of pressure. Kalu is an ordinary citizen of the country may have started women’s football league with FIFA direction. Good luck and stay focused and prayerful team. All the best.

  14. If feel ..there is a bigger problem here..Faz knows it all..
    It’s like Hazel is the one telling the team doctors wat to do …

  15. Let her remain with the team for moral support
    Allowances for one person should not demoralise the entire nation

    • Zambians , why are you like this. Remember what Nali did to our beautiful mother Zambia. If that injury is not that serious like she said , let her be and benefit all allowances please. Stop what you are doing.

  16. This injury exists YES.
    Someone from FAZ doesn’t want NALI to get any money from the world cup outing. SIMPLE.
    The results should have been shown to her to genuinely convince her she is not fit to play.
    Government confirmed having released the monies way back. Why are the players not paid yet.
    What’s wrong with asking for what you’re owed?
    This is why we don’t develop as a nation.
    Apa FAZ is the problem. Money money money.

  17. FAZ must know that Nali has lost her job because their poor administration. It’s high time that thieves at FAZ are taken to court so that they pay Nali money for the remainder of the contract at her former club plus all the allowances she is entitled to at the World cup competitions . Nali has been instrumental in taking the team the World cup and she must not be treated like that. Andrew Kamanga was accusing Kalusha of corruption when he is more than corrupt himself. He is not just corrupt, he is a robber. And why is not commenting on the matter. You people when are you going to ill-treat and steal people’s nomey. You claim to be rich instead of claiming to be criminals. Nali must remain at the World cup. Nali has lost her job because of her dedication to the contrary, now because she has a slight injury no one cares about her . Those fake incompetent team doctors, are you the ones who made the young women to reach the World cup competitions. You’re getting allowances there because of the girls. Let the young lady be there. Don’t steal her money. FAZ , support the younger lady.

  18. Any rational thinking person could not have treated her in this way! Don’t FAZ have condition of service ? Aveil to the public the contents of the medical report since the matter is now in public domain. Let her be with the team till the end of the games by Zambia. If she takes you to court, you compensate her for a number of cases. Pay the team their dues and do
    not frustrate our Copper Queens. Remember we are in the new dawn era. You go faster than you want!

  19. I feel bad mwee, Leadership is not for bad people, we need to show justice to everyone and as a leader you need to take responsibility for the people you are leading. We are happy as Zambians to see them doing great in every game but let them given full support and allowances what they need to be given for things to be moving well. Trust me if people are complaining nothing good is coming out of it but good communication, understanding to one another and if leader and players are in good communication then we will get what we fighting for.


  21. Guys these confusion are there on to weaken the team spirit by some countries outside Africa so in my opinion open yours and stick together say things for media sake but inside team be together you are winning it’s your time girls dnt hate.

  22. But it’s something unfair Zambia administration site down and come up with fair judgment. In short make this unfair treatment to fair treatment

  23. Let her be at the tournament.
    Why eliminating her we believe that once she stays there something o somehow can help the team and help her … because in everything we do for the future…yes

  24. Let her be with the team,I hope the goal keeper replacing hazel is as good as her,it is really a sad situation.Those in leadership positions concerning football in Zambia should try to understand what hazel is saying …This is world cup

  25. We love you we feel the pain you are going through, mmmmmh this is painful Indeed, you are the best goal keeper , fellow Zambians read this from the beginning to the end don’t just comment

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