NEWLY-appointed interim national football team coach Klaus Dieter Pagels says local-based players would form the core of his team.
Report by Henry Mhara Sports Reporter
The German national — who was Zifa’s national technical adviser since 2010 on a government-to-government agreement — was appointed on Wednesday after the resignation of Rahman Gumbo. Zifa had disbanded the national team before Gumbo’s resignation and the association had closed the door on some of the senior players for future selection into the Warriors fold.
The decision came after the Warriors failed to qualify for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers to be hosted by South Africa, losing to Angola on the away goals rule.
“In my opinion, the best players available should be selected to play for the national team. Every Zimbabwean player who is eligible will play and I will select them on merit. In my mind I have players who play outside the country who I think are good, but I also have many players from the local league who I think are very good.
“In the two-and-a-half years I have been here, I have seen a lot of talented players who I think can deliver if given a chance. Those are the players who will form the big part of the team,” Pagels said.
Pagels’ immediate task will be to assemble a team to face Egypt in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. The Warriors are already struggling with one point from two games.
“We are not in a good position, but maybe we can surprise the football world and qualify. Maybe we will need more time to build the team. I don’t want to tell the nation that we will not qualify or we will qualify for the World Cup before we have played the matches. First, we have to play these matches and after that I will tell the people if we are going to qualify or not. But I always go into a match to try and win,” he said.
Pagels, whose only experience as a coach was with a third-tier team in his home country, is the third German to take charge of the Warriors, after Rudi Gutendorf and the late Reinhard Fabisch. But it is Fabisch who was the most popular in Zimbabwe, having taken the Warriors to within one game of qualifying for the 1994 World Cup finals.
“Before I came here, the German Football Association told me the good work that Fabisch did here, but I told them I’m not Fabisch.
“I will find my own way. Fabisch did a lot of good things and anywhere you go, even in the rural areas, you will find an 80-year-old woman talking about him. But we are two different people and it will not be fair to compare me with him,” Pagels said.