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Devine Lunga says he didn't snub Warriors

by Staff reporter
01 Apr 2021 at 07:05hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE international fullback Devine Lunga has refuted reports suggesting he snubbed Warriors call-up for the last two Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia, insisting his absence was due to injury.

The leftback was one of several foreign-based players who did not participate in the qualifiers for various reasons, including COVID-19-related issues.

While Europe-based players were barred from representing their countries due to strict travel restrictions, Lunga who plays in neighbouring South Africa had been expected to turn up.

However, he did not take part in the qualifiers, leading to reports that he might be one of the players who have been accused by the Warriors technical team of refusing to heed the call for national duty.

Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic told the media early this week that he had shut the door for players who snubbed call-up and NewsDay is reliably informed that Lunga is one of the affected players.

Warriors general manager Wellington Mpandare yesterday, however, said that the official position is that Lunga's absence was due to injury.

"That Lunga snubbed the national team call-up is a creation of social media. People are entitled to their own views, but the official position is that Lunga was injured," he said.

Lunga's manager Gibson Mahachi also confirmed. "For the record, Lunga's absence from the national team was above board. There was communication between his club and Zifa about his injury and everything was above board. He (Lunga) even suggested to come even though he was injured so he could be assessed," Mahachi said.

NewsDay is, however, reliably informed that Lunga wrote to Mpandare on March 19 excusing himself from travelling to Zimbabwe because he was carrying an injury which needed him to rest for two weeks.

But he played a league game for his club the following day and lasted the whole match. This, according to sources, riled Logarusic who decided to blacklist the leftback.

Speaking after the win against Botswana that secured Zimbabwe's qualification to next year's Afcon finals, Logarusic fired a salvo which was believed to be targeted at Lunga.

"What I am looking for in a player is character, commitment and then talent. If a player thinks that he can pick and choose games that he wants to play, no, he will not. We have players like Knowledge Musona and Victor Kamhuka, who travelled thousands of miles to come for national duty, but some players in South Africa refused to come because they don't have the country at heart. Also we have some players who are in Europe who ignored our calls when we needed them, but now that we have qualified, they are calling me. I have blocked them."

"I don't do like other coaches who just look at how good a player is. For me, I consider a player's character first, the personality, that is, if you love your country and then the rest. If you don't love your country why should I select you?"

In Lunga's absence in the crunch match against Botswana, Logarusic was forced to call up Onesmor Bhasera as a last-minute replacement with the veteran defender only joining up with the team in South Africa on their way to Botswana.

Bhasera, who paid for his trip, went on to play the full match which Zimbabwe won to clinch their ticket to Cameroon.

"That is the commitment that I am looking for," Logarusic said.

"Bhasera had a problem with a ticket that we had bought for him and he said don't worry, let me buy another ticket for myself."

Source - KickOff/The SouthAfrican