Zimbabwe will name their final squad for the African Nations Championship (CHAN) finals in Cameroon on December 30, but for now have given the players off until December 28 after ending a two-week camp on Sunday.
Coach Zdravko Logarusic must cut his squad down to the 23 players who will travel for the continental finals in a competition that is open only to players who ply their trade in their domestic leagues.
“We will work with the selected team from December 28, working on combinations and tactical play until we leave,” Logarusic was quoted by The Herald. “This is not to say we have enough time but at least we should have players with the expected basics to work with. It pains me a lot to drop a player from the squad but it has to be done, however, painful.”
Logarusic has been hamstrung to some extent by the fact he has not been able to secure the release of players from Zimbabwe champions FC Platinum due to their involvement in a CAF Champions league tie with top Tanzanian side Simba.
“As it stands, I am not taking the FC Platinum players on board. I wanted to have some assessment of them but they couldn’t be released. I know they are playing in the CAF Champions League and we support them since they are representing the country.
“But by the time they play in Tanzania, we will be four, five days from leaving for Cameroon, so we may not take any of them aboard.”
Zimbabwe have been drawn in a tough pool that will see them open their campaign against hosts Cameroon on January 16, followed by a meeting with Burkina Faso four days later, and a clash against Mali on January 24.
Zimbabwe have qualified for four of the previous five CHAN tournaments, finishing fourth in 2014, but failing to make it out the pool stages in the other three.