BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
WARRIORS coach Zdravko “Loga” Logarusic has expressed concern over his players’ lack of competitive match fitness with Zimbabwe being one of four sides that will feature at the African Nations Championships (CHAN) finals to be held in Cameroon next month, whose league is not running.
The Croatian tactician has been limited to friendly matches against local Premier Soccer League clubs to prepare after plans for a domestic mini-league tournament in a bio-bubble suffered a stillbirth.
Logarusic admitted that his players, who last played competitive football last year, are still lagging behind in terms of fitness despite the friendlies.
“The preparations for the CHAN tournament have been difficult. It’s hard to do any preparations when players have not been playing competitive football,’ Logarusic told NewsDay Sport.
“If everything was normal from the New Year until now players would have played between 20 to 40 official games and about 100 training sessions. Now we have had just six training sessions and played three games, in two to three weeks I will have to do the job the players have to do all year.
Logarusic further lamented the fact that Zimbabwe is one of only four countries who will head into the CHAN finals without having played competitive league football.
From the 16 nations that will line up in the tournament, exclusively featuring players from the respective national championships only Zimbabwe, Congo, Togo and Namibia are set to resume their respective leagues following the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“The main disadvantage is that we are the only team (one of only few teams) in CHAN which does not have an active league. The rest of the nations in CHAN started their leagues and we are going to participate with our players having not played any league or official games.”
Despite the inactivity Logarusic said his charges can still challenge for coveted title. Loga also revealed that he would continue to use the friendlies against local Premiership clubs to identify more players who could be added to the final squad.
“The players are lacking in fitness and we are coming without proper preparations but we are Warriors, we will have to do with what we have We will not go there like for the Olympics just to participate but to compete. We have a very short time and we chose about 34 players but I didn’t take players from FC Platinum because the national team represents the country but FC Platinum are also representing the nation.”
He added: “The absence of FC Platinum players means other players will also have a chance to shine, we are going to play six games against local clubs. At the moment we are rotating so that each player plays just 45 minutes because they are not yet fully fit to play 90 minutes and I don’t want them to get injured. We are playing the friendlies against local clubs because we also want to see if we missed any players.”
The Warriors are set to continue their preparations with a friendly match against FC Platinum today before another clash against Dynamos.
Follow Daniel on Twitter @danielnhakaniso