• Chishimba Bwalya

Olympics was a learning curve - Nali


ZAMBIA women’s football team goalkeeper Hazel Nali believes participation at the Tokyo Olympics has been a learning curve for the players.


She also believes the experience will be crucial for the team's development.


Nali said this when she arrived from Japan on Saturday afternoon alongside featherweight boxer Evaristo Mulenga, football team manager Besa Chibwe and the doctor, Faith Chibeza, at 15;10hrs.


The two athletes were received by National Olympic Committee of Zambia (NOCZ) and Zambia Boxing Federation (ZBF) officials.


Nali, who spoke to NOCZ Media, described the country’s participation as a great experience for the team and said it will help the players in future.


“Experience will be great as a team because we know we have learnt a number of things personally and putting them together as a team it will be of great help,” she said.


“For me I counted it a great opportunity and I know that I will not be the same and I have learnt one or two things from the Games.


“We were playing at the highest level and I can only thank God because it wasn’t easy but He made everything easy for us. So I can say the experience was great.”


The women’s team made their historic debut at the Games July 21 with a loss to Netherlands before being held to draw by China. Their final match was against Brazil where they succumbed to a loss by a lone goal to signify their exit.


However, the shot-stopper believes Zambia would have done better had they gone further in the competition, despite their shaky start during the group stage.


“I think we could have done better, if you saw the Games that we kept on playing after the first game, we improved. Every one of us knew that at the level we were we can do better and everyone came out strong and showed what they are made of and the play was being shown after the first games.”


She said despite being knocked out, the team was not so behind in terms of quality with the opponents.


Meanwhile, featherweight boxer Mulenga has set his sight on next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and is confident about his chances to win a medal.


“At the Commonwealth Games I expect a medal because I am coming from bigger games. I’m confident.


He added: “I’ve learnt a lot and I have gotten experience and I will just start preparations for (Paris) 2024 so that I can perform better.”


The boxer was eliminated from the Games in the round of 16 after losing to Colombia’s Avila Segura on split decision.


MULENGA upon arrival at KKIA. PICTURE: NOCZ Media


NALI at KKIA. PICTURE: NOCZ Media

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