More Headache for Loga

More headache is brewing for Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic after plans to secure international friendly matches for the Warriors ahead of the CHAN tournament set for Cameroon next month fell through.

The gaffer has been desperate to get at least one sparring partner to test his side in game situation before the team leaves for Cameroon.

ZIFA had targeted East Africans Kenya and the CHAN-bound pair of Congo-Brazzaville and Rwanda.

With two weeks remaining before the Warriors depart for Cameroon, team manager Wellington Mpandare told The Herald that the team is now set to leave without engaging in international friendly matches because of the complications in travelling across Africa.

The Warriors technical team made the request for international friendlies to ZIFA since the Zimbabwean players have not played competitive football for the past one year. The domestic league failed to kick-off because of coronavirus.

“Initially we were supposed to play Congo-Brazzaville but then we would need to go there via Ethiopia, spend a night there and then proceed the following day.

“We do the same routine on the way back home and that would mean at least four days are wasted on travelling alone, which is not ideal considering we have little time left. Every hour is important considering where we are coming from.

“The coronavirus pandemic has also made travelling hectic. Then there was also Rwanda who came up with a proposal but this too was not feasible because of the difficulties in travelling and the huge financial costs that were involved.

“Maybe we will be able to arrange a friendly match against one of the participating teams when we arrive in Cameroon.

“So we may revert to Plan A, which was to camp here, play a few more practice matches with the local clubs and then fly directly to Cameroon,” said Mpandare.

The Warriors resumed camp yesterday after they had dispersed for the Christmas holidays.

Zimbabwe were placed in Group A alongside hosts Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Mali in the group stage of the CHAN competition, which is exclusively reserved for players plying their trade in their domestic leagues.

The Warriors will feature in the opening match against the hosts, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon on January 16.

Logarusic, who arrived in the country early this year, is greatly worried that he has not had a chance to see the players in action after domestic football failed to kick-off this season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

He has been chopping and changing his squad at every turn ever since his side began to indulge in practice matches against domestic Premiership sides.

As a result, the Warriors coach managed to retain only 14 players from his original 34-member squad, as nine new faces made it into the final selection.

Those who managed to survive the chop include Partson Jaure, Ian Nekati, Qadr Amin, Andrew Mbeba, Peter Muduhwa, Wellington Taderera, Leeroy Mavunga, Tatenda Tavengwa, Nadolo, Obriel Chirinda and the surprise package Pawell Govere of new Division one outfit, Golden Eagles.

Ngezi Platinum Stars midfielder Denver Mukamba was among the late entrants, who also included Talent Chamboko, Carlos Mavhurume, Tafadzwa Jaravani, Richard Hachiro, Ronald Chitiyo, Tawanda Nyamandwe, Shadreck Nyahwa and Farawo Matare.

The players were slotted in after practice matches were arranged for the Warriors while they were in camp against some of the Premier Soccer League teams such as Bulawayo Chiefs, Dynamos, Ngezi Platinum Stars, Herentals, FC Platinum, Manica Diamonds and CAPS United.

During the course of the practice matches, Logarusic also dropped the likes of Phineas Bamusi, Valentine Musarurwa, William Manondo, Collins Duwa, Xolani Ndlovu and Valentine Kadonzvo from the squad.

Defensive midfielders Devon Chafa, Tichaona Chipunza and Nqobizitha Masuku also failed to make the cut, along with Harare City striker Thomas Chideu and defender Frank Makarati of Ngezi Platinum.

Logarusic also left out six players from FC Platinum to enable them to concentrate of their CAF Champions League adventure.

“I have seen more than 40 players who have the potential to play for the national team but it’s very hard to select players who haven’t played football for nine, 10 months,” said Logarusic.

“Anyway we will try our best to see how things go. We have tried our best as the technical team to give most players in the top-flight a chance to prove themselves.”

The final squad has to be submitted to the Confederation of African Football by next Wednesday, with the Warriors expected to depart for Cameroon on January 11.

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