The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
WARRIORS coach, Zdravko “Loga” Logarusic is set to use the expertise of local Premiership clubs’ coaches as he prepares for the 2020 African Nations Championships (Chan) that take place in April in Cameroon.
Zimbabwe will however, first date African soccer champions Algeria in crucial back-to-back matches of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers at Barbourfields Stadium next month. Loga set out on a tour of the country to meet the coaches of the clubs in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League whose input he said would be crucial in preparation for the Chan games.
With the 2020 PSL season yet to kick off, Loga will have little time to assess the local players that will feature in the Chan tournament and believes wide consultations with coaches will enable him to come up with a formidable squad.
Loga arrived in Bulawayo on Friday night together with Zifa technical director, Wilson Mutekede and was yesterday evening scheduled to meet the coaches of the four Premier Soccer League clubs based in the city, Highlanders’ Mark Harrison and Mandla Mpofu, Bulawayo City’s Philani “Beefy” Ncube, Chicken Inn’s Joey Antipas and Bulawayo Chiefs gaffer Thulani Sibanda.
“I have come to meet with the local PSL coaches and also familiarise myself with Barbourfields Stadium, where the Warriors are going to be playing their home matches. I want to share experiences and ideas with the coaches while also getting their opinion on how we can work together going forward. Their input is critical as it will assist me as I prepare for the 2020 Chan finals. I decided to come down and meet the coaches instead of me calling them to come to me as a way of showing my appreciation and how I value them as I want us to work together a lot in the future,” he said.
PSL coaches are likely to help the coach identify players that will make up the team that will do duty in Cameroon. Loga said next week he will be organising a meeting with coaches who are in charge of Harare-based teams and will also be visiting other areas like Zvishavane where FC Platinum is based.
He revealed he is yet to meet his assistants Antipas and Tonderai Ndiraya and will only be able to do so after next week.
With the Premiership kicking off on 21 March, Loga will only have two weeks to watch local players in competitive action before heading for Cameroon for the opening match of the Chan finals on 4 April.
The Croatian gaffer said they will have to overcome several challenges as they take part in the tournament, adding that it will be folly to expect players to be at their peak with only two weeks of competitive game time.
“It is unfortunate that our players will just be coming from two months of lay off and will just be starting to play competitively hence they will not be 100 percent fit. I believe we are also in the most difficult group while I am also new to the set up so we will have to overcome these hurdles and not see them as excuses because we will be going there to do our best and come up with the best results,” he said.
Zimbabwe was drawn in Group A that also features hosts Cameroon, Mali and Burkina Faso at the tournament that will run from 4 to 25 April. In the Group H Afcon qualifiers, the Warriors will travel to Algeria on the weekend of 23 March before they host the African champions on the weekend of 31 March.
Zimbabwe’s Warriors are occupying second position in Group H of the 2021 Nations qualifiers, two points behind the Desert Foxes of Algeria, who have accumulated six points on the back of two wins over Botswana and Zambia, while Zimbabwe drew with Botswana in Harare before beating Zambia in Lusaka.