By Ricky Zililo
Amazing work ethic exhibited by Zimbabwean players at South African Premiership club Lamontville Golden Arrows has earned them praise from coach Mandla Ngcikazi.
The Durban-based club, which is second on the Premiership table with 36 points, four points behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, has had an incredible season and is home to the Zimbabwean quartet of goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda, defender Divine Lunga, midfielder Danny ‘Deco’ Phiri and striker Knox Mutizwa.
For the 2020/21 season, Lunga and Mutizwa have been in terrific form, with the former playing more matches than the striker.
Both players were called up for Zimbabwe’s Afcon qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia, but missed out due to injuries.
Lunga’s last minute withdrawal reportedly drew the ire of national team coach Zdravko Logarusic, who has reportedly closed him out of the national team.
Ngcikazi, shot down allegations that the Zimbabwean left-back snubbed the Warriors, saying he admires the “patriotism” of Warriors’ stars in his team.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ve seen reports that Lunga snubbed the national team when in actual fact he has an injury and is yet to resume training. He had a knee injury and has been limping.
“The actual diagnosis is a left patella contusion, a bone bruise and then during our last match he was kicked on the left quadriceps muscle, which then stiffened up during the match,” said Ngcikazi.
He said he is praying for a “miracle” to happen to Lunga, who sat out yesterday morning’s training session.
“Let me say this, I’m South African, but there’s no way I’ll deprive my players from going for national team duty.
“To be honest, these guys (Zimbabwean players) are not rich, but love their country, they respect their country and will do anything to uphold the Zimbabwean flag. How much I wish our brothers in Zimbabwe will understand that Lunga missed out because of injury.
“As it is, we resumed training and Divine hasn’t started training. We play Swallows and I’m praying for a miracle. Knox is still out injured and is hobbling.
“Zimbabwean players have so much pride and patriotisim about their country. It’s not about the money. These guys Knox, Lunga, Phiri and Sibanda have made me fall in love with Zimbabwe even when I haven’t been there,” Ngcikazi said. The Chronicle