BY FORTUNE MBELE/KEVIN MAPASURE
VETERAN football administrator Ndumiso Gumede has blamed coach Zdravko Logarušic for the Warriors’ dismal display at the Cosafa Cup tournament.
Gumede yesterday said the results at Cosafa paint a grim picture, especially ahead of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers as well as the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon qualifiers) finals.
Since his arrival in Zimbabwe, the Croatian has been in charge of 11 matches and has won one match, drawn five and lost five.
Gumede said the failure at this year’s regional tournament had unsettled local football followers.
“From inception of the Cosafa tournament, we have always done well. In fact, for a long time, we held the record of most wins. I suspect we still lead in the participation at the finals. So, this year’s performance is way below our usual. However, there are reasons or excuses for this, chief of which may be:- a new coach who really hasn’t found his feet in the Zimbabwe game,” Gumede said.
The former Zifa president, however, said a combination of factors could be affecting the Warriors’ perfomance.
“All this doesn’t bode well for us doing miracles at Afcon or World Cup qualifiers. The truth is that we are not in this quagmire alone. The other nations are also affected by the (COVID-19) pandemic. The difference is in how we try to steer the ship through these turbulent times to maximise on available opportunities. However, pointless it may seem in competing where we know we will not win, it is still admirable to know that it is more appreciated to have participated anyway.”
Gumede opined that player selection was poor, but acknowledged that lack of game time for some of the players might have affected results.
“The other reasons (for the poor performance) are the pandemic that has not allowed games to be played out of which suitable and qualified players could have been selected. The poor selection of players now seemingly influenced by the now powerful player-agents. The lack of practice time for the selected players. Five days of ‘practice’ for an international tournament is a rude joke,” Gumede said.
He added: “And of course, the perennial funding problems which have an influence on the level of remuneration of players is a factor. It affects player motivation. Lastly, the lack of serious commitment on the part of players for fear of injury which would jeopardise their club engagements, leading to diminished earnings.”
After losing to 2-0 to Namibia in his third game at Nelson Mandela Bay on Sunday, Logarušic said: “I am sad about the defeat, but I am still happy about the performance of the players. I am looking at the bigger picture, which is the development of the players and I am impressed with the performance of the young players.
“We are looking forward to the next game against Senegal. You just have to believe. This is Africa, anything is possible. We just need to continue believing.”
The Warriors still have a mathematical chance of gate-crashing into the semi-finals if they win against Senegal today.
With two points, they sit precariously on the Group B log standings led by Namibia with six points from two wins, Mozambique with four points and Senegal with three.
Malawi is at the bottom with a point grabbed from a draw against the Warriors.
The Warriors’ chances of qualifying to the next stage are limited and while the fans are demanding results, Logarusic said his focus is on the future.
Logarusic said that he picked Karuru because he is currently clubless and in need of game time.
“Cosafa is a developmental tournament and we wanted to explain this before we left, but our request for a Press conference was shot down,” Logarusic said in a statement.
“I only watched six teams in the Chibuku Super Cup and I hope to watch players from other clubs when the league commences. The Cosafa tournament is not about results, we have a plan, we want to see certain players and I must say I have seen two or three players that can play in the World Cup qualifiers and the African Cup of Nations finals. We had a short period of preparations and we couldn’t do much in that period. We are looking at building a team for the future.”
The underfire Coat begged the media to support his project.
“We hope the media can support us we are humans we make mistakes and we hope that we can correct those mistakes if we have made any,” he said.
Logarusic has been criticised over his team selection after several players that did well in the Chibuku Super Cup tournament were left out, among them Caps United four-goal hero Ishmael Wadi, Denver Mukamba of Ngezi and Silas Songani of FC Platinum, to mention but three.
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