Lamontville Golden Arrows Assistant Coach Mandla Ncikazi has praised their players that have been away on national duty at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), saying they have done both club and the Premier Soccer League proud.

Abafana Bes’thende are one of the most well-represented foreign teams at the continental championships, with four players that have been doing duty.

Two of their Zimbabwean trio, Divine Lunga and Danny Phiri, have played while Knox Mutizwa has been waiting in the wings.

The same has been the case with Namibian goalkeeper Maximilian Mbaeva, although Ncikazi says they are proud of all of them.

Arrows are currently in their third week of pre-season, having started preparation for 2019/20 in mid-June.

The initial few weeks has been mainly about assessments for Coach Ncikazi and head Coach Steve Komphela.

The pair have seen their jobs made slightly easier by the players, who Ncikazi says have adhered to their training programmes during the off-season break.

Their only concerns have been about the players at Afcon, although all four are looking in good shape ahead of their expected return in the next 10 days.

Arrows have already played their first friendly of the pre-season, which was more of a relaxed kick-about with a lower division side from Durban. They have the coming weekend free, before stepping up preparations with a four-team Msunduzi Cup next week, followed by the KwaZulu-Natal Premier’s Cup seven days later.

Those matches, Ncikazi says, will give them adequate preparation time ahead of their opening Absa Premiership fixture against Maritzburg United on August 4.

– Report by Thahir Asmal