BY FORTUNE MBELE
WARRIORS’ coach Zdravko “Loga” Logarušić has launched a mission to try and persuade clubs to release players for his proposed 10-day training camp ahead of the African Nations Championships (Chan) finals slated for April 4 to 25.
The Chan tournament is exclusively for home-based players and Loga is worried that he might not get ample preparatory time with the players, with the 2020 Premier League season set to kickstart on March 21.
This week, he visited clubs in Harare that include Caps United, Dynamos, Harare City and Black Rhinos before he travelled to Mhondoro-Ngezi to meet Ngezi Platinum Stars officials and coaches, after which he took his road tour to Zvishavane and Bulawayo.
Loga would have wanted the players to have played a number of competitive matches by the time they leave for Cameroon.
But the Premier Soccer League announced this week that the Castle Challenge Cup, which is the season curtain raiser, will be played on March 14 in Bulawayo.
While he cannot do much about the number of matches that the players can be involved in before they travel, he is at least trying to push through his plans for an extended training camp.
The coach, who was unveiled last week, will be meeting the players for the first time when they start camp.
Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela confirmed Logarušić’s tour.
“He (Logarušić) is arriving in Bulawayo tomorrow (today) after visiting Ngezi Platinum Stars and FC Platinum at their bases today. Yesterday he met teams in Harare,” he said.
“In Bulawayo, he will be meeting the clubs there and will tour infrastructure, especially Barbourfields Stadium, which is the only facility that has been approved for Caf matches. It is like a familiarisation tour.”
Asked if the coach’s tour had anything to do with players to take part in the Chan finals in Cameroon, Gwesela responded: “That is part of the purpose of his visit as well.”
After his unveiling, Loga expressed concern at the inactivity of the players ahead of the tournament and requested Zifa to organise a training camp as well as friendly matches.
“The first problem is that there is no competitive league football taking place locally at the moment. We don’t know what kind of form these players have. Because it’s the beginning of the season, not many players will be in top form at the beginning of the season,” Logarušic said.
“They hit top form maybe six to eight weeks later. Also, we will be short of time to prepare, but we will try to talk to the clubs so that maybe from March 8 to 18, we can put players together to play three friendly games and then have trainings as a team. But we will not give every player 90 minutes, but probably 40 minutes. Let’s try in 10 days to create from the local players a competitive team that can go out there and get results.”
Zimbabwe face hosts Cameroon in the tournament opener and are also up against Mali and Burkina Faso in Group A.
The Croat was appointed at the end of January and his first assignment will be a tough back-to-back collision with African Champions Algeria in 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Group H qualifiers next month.