THE prospect of hosting Algeria on neutral soil and prepare a rusty local contingent of players ahead of Chan should be naturally worrisome to new Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic but the Croat is relishing the challenge.
The Warriors play African football champions Algeria in back-to-back 2021 AFCON qualifying ties later this month with the first leg scheduled for Algiers while Zimbabwe were last week barred from hosting international matches due to sub-standard stadiums.
Although ZIFA have appealed the decision by CAF and invited the continental governing body to revisit that position, Logarusic is unfazed as he believes his team can win anywhere in the world if they have the right attitude.
“Hosting Algeria away from home will be difficult for us. Playing before our supporters always makes life difficult for the opponents and easier for us but we are Warriors, we have to be in the war and win it anywhere,” said Logarusic.
“It won’t be easy but our nickname, the Warriors, means we cannot give up easily. Whether we play in Zimbabwe, South Africa or Zambia, we are ready for war. We are not intimidated but truly speaking, we would have loved to play our game in front of our own fans who can intimidate the opponents.
“This is why it is called home advantage. But, we are dealing with what is on the ground. We have to play football and win anywhere.”
The Warriors play away to Algeria on March 23 before the African champions visit for the second leg six days later.
Algeria top the pool with six points, two ahead of the Warriors, who are second, while Botswana, who have collected a single point, are in third place ahead of Zambia with no points after two games as the battle for the two qualification slots from the group enters a defining moment.
But qualifying for the 2021 AFCON to be held in Cameroon early next year is not the only headache the former Sudan coach as he also needs to prepare a local contingent of players for the Chan tournament in the same west African country which begins early next month.
The tournament is exclusive to players plying their trade in their respective local leagues and the fact that the Zimbabwean league is yet to commence makes Logarusic’s life even more complicated.
Logarusic is expected to announce his Chan squad today.
“The squad for the Chan tournament has already been compiled and will be announced by Monday (today).
“We have already chosen the team and I am glad I have worked with those who have been there for a while.
“We have selected 27 players and put three on stand-by in case some players get injured. We are starting training on March 8, and will release those who play for both Highlanders and FC Platinum so that they are able to play in the Castle Challenge Cup.
“I am not intimidated. I know it will be difficult working with players who are coming from off-season with no match fitness. I would have preferred a situation whereby the players are match-fit but that is what is there. We will try to deliver with those we have at the moment.”
Meanwhile, Logarusic has made a passionate plea to Zimbabweans to unite and support the Warriors cause despite the difficulties he is facing with the national team.
He was supposed to have Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas as the first assistant in his backroom staff but the Bulawayo side withdrew Antipas’ services from the national team.
Some sections of the media then insinuated that it was Logarusic who had expressed reservations working with the former Motor Action gaffer.
“There is no bad blood between me and Joey (Antipas). I respect him very much and I actually consulted him before coming up with the names of players who I want to work with. So please don’t cook up issues.”