Warriors coach eyes World Cup

BY HENRY MHARA

WARRIORS new coach Zdravko Logarušić is thrilled with the quality of players that are at his disposal, and is confident that the team can qualify for both the Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup.

The Croat signed a two-year contract last month and he is expected in the country next week to begin his tenure.

There were questions about Zifa’s decision to give the nomadic coach the top job, but his knowledge of Zimbabwean football has mesmerised his critics.

In an interview with NewsDay Sport, Logarušić discussed a wide range of issues including the quality of Warriors players, as well as the team’s chances of navigating what looks like two tricky groups in their bid to qualify for the 2022 Fifa World Cup and the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals.

To qualify for the World Cup, Zimbabwe will have to negotiate their way through a tough Group G which also comprises giants Ghana, neighbours South Africa and Ethiopia. The top team in the group will progress to the final knockout round and will be pitted against one of the nine other group winners for a contest played over two legs.

Five winners from those ties will represent Africa at the 2022 Qatar Fifa World Cup finals.

“We must give full respect to Ghana and South Africa and not underestimate Ethiopia. If we want to win and be top of the group, the most important thing will be to win all games against the so-called small team in the group. The two matches against Ethiopia will be the most important ones because the other matches can go either way,” Logarušić said.

He drew fire in Zimbabwe last week when he suggested that Ghana stands a better chance of finishing as Group G leaders.

“If Ghana people ask me how their team will fare, I will tell them they will easily win the group. Those are called mind games. And I have my reasons why I said that.”

“Each team wants to qualify for the World Cup. To make our own dream, we have to work hard. What is also important is to be united and give proper support to players and the coaching staff. I’m the coach but without the support of the association, the players, my assistants and the media, I’m nothing. If we breathe like one, we can do it. My job is to create the atmosphere in the team.
Zifa on the other hand should organise the best support we can get. We must feel that we are getting the best. The media should also create the feeling. When we work together, we can achieve whatever we want.”

Turning to the Afcon qualification bid, Zimbabwe currently lie second in Group H behind African champions Algeria after two rounds of games.

Zambia and Botswana complete the group, with the top two teams qualifying to the finals, set for Cameroon next year.

“All the teams in the group want to go to the Africa Cup of Nations. Algeria want to prove they are the best in Africa. The same with the other teams. Our job is to do the job in the field of play. We will respect them, but not over-confident,” Logarušić said.

He has also been following the performance of Warriors players abroad, and speaks highly of them. His knowledge of the key Warriors players including Tino Kadewere, Marvelous Nakamba, Marshal Munetsi, Teenage Hadebe, Alec Mudimu and captain Knowledge Musona is impressive.

Logarušić has also been tracking the Warriors players in the South African league and in Zambia.

“We shouldn’t be afraid because we have players who are playing high-level football. We must believe in ourselves and be confident. We have Kadewere who wants to show that he is one of the best strikers in the world. We have captain (Musona), who wants to prove that he is still the best striker in the country. Nakamba will want to show that he plays in the English Premier League, the best league in the world in my opinion. We are not just participating in the group, but we will have to compete. We have to trust the players we have, and believe in them. We are going to fight and do our best. I’m confident that with the players that we have, we can finish top of the group,” he said.

Logarušić will begin his tenure with a tough match against Algeria away, and face the same opponent a week later at home in the reverse fixture.

“If all those players I know continue to play the same way they are doing at the moment and are match fit, we have a very good chance. We pray that we will not have any injuries between now and then. Most of the players are regulars at their clubs, which is very good for us and gives us a very good chance.”

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