By Don Makanyanga
Golden Arrows defender Divine Lunga remains an integral member of the Zimbabwe national senior soccer team amid revelations by Warriors manager Wellington Mpandare yesterday that the door had not been shut on the gifted 25-year-old left-back.
Lunga was conspicuous by his absence from the Warriors as they sealed their qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations finals following a 1-0 triumph over Botswana in Francistown which was however, tainted by a 2-0 home defeat by Zambia.
There had been indications that Lunga had snubbed the Warriors call on the basis that he had cited injury when excusing himself from national duty but had reportedly featured for his club.
A day after having excused himself from the two qualifiers on March 19 due to an injury, the former Chicken Inn defender was in action for Golden Arrows in a DStv Premiership assignment.
The development reportedly irked Warriors coach, Zdravko Logarušic, who is said to have slammed the door on Lunga for future assignments.
Mpandare, however, insisted yesterday that Lunga had not been banished and said his request to be excused had received the blessings of the technical crew.
“There is speculation going round about Divine Lunga being banned from representing Zimbabwe in future national team assignments. I would like to state that as matter of fact this is not true. Lunga is still open for selection for national duty,” he said.
Mpandare said Lunga was not in the same group of players who had been ignoring Warriors calls only to make themselves available when the team had qualified for the Nations Cup.
“Divine was never suspended or banned from the national team. The coach was only saying he blocked players on WhatsApp who ignored him when he wanted them but he is not blocking them from the national team.
“The coach never spoke to Divine and besides Divine is a level-headed boy who does not ignore messages from me or the coach,” he said.
A letter in possession of The Sunday Mail Sport from Golden Arrows to the Warriors manager revealed that Lunga played the match against Cape Town City after taking some anti-inflammatories.
“The abovementioned professional footballer for Lamontville Golden Arrows FC sustained a right patella contusion during training on 19/03/2021. He has been on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories since the injury.
“During the match on 20/03/2021 against Cape Town City FC, the player sustained a further right vastus lateralis quadriceps contusion which he struggled with during the match. He limped through the last 10 minutes of the match due to pain and inability to bend the knee with ease. He then subsequently was unable to be substituted at this stage as all substitution opportunities had been used. On clinical examination post-match, there was noted right quadriceps muscular swelling and mild effusion on the suprapatellar recess laterally.
“It is my medical opinion that this player requires a period of strict rest, physiotherapy intervention and rehabilitation over the next two weeks,” reads part of the letter from Golden Arrows.
Mpandare confirmed receiving the letter from the club and said due to the limited time the Warriors had before their games against Botswana and Zambia, they could not insist on Lunga flying to Harare to be assessed by their own medical crew.
“After we received the letter and him playing against Cape Town City, we got in touch with Lunga who revealed that he was willing to come and be assessed by our own doctors, but there was limited time hence we had to call in Bhasera (Onismor) for cover since the other player, Jordan Zemura, who could have played in that role, had been ruled out by travelling restrictions,” he said. The Sunday Mail