BY FORTUNE MBELE
WARRIORS coach Zdravko Logarušić has defended his team’s dismal Cosafa Cup record, saying the tournament was a platform to experiment ahead of the World Cup qualifiers in September, adding that the team could have done better had he not lost six players prior to the regional tournament.
The Warriors were booted out of the Cosafa Cup last week after playing two draws against Mozambique and Malawi before losing to Namibia and Senegal in Group B.
A number of football critics have called on Zifa to sack Logarušić, but the coach yesterday cited the loss of strikers Knox Mutizwa, Evans Rusike, Perfect Chikwende, Kevin Moyo, Godknows Murwira and McClive Phiri just before travelling to South Africa for the poor show.
“I need an extra defender, a striker, a fullback and a midfielder which would give me good options for substitutions in case something happens. That means I had to check on some players at Cosafa. I said I want ro see Kevin (Moyo), Knox (Mutizwa), Perfect (Chikwende) because I need him for September. Also (Evans) Rusike is a good striker in case players in Europe don’t come because of the coronavirus. I also needed to see Godknows (Murwira), (McClive) Phiri and I needed a goalkeeper and I called (Washington) Arubi. I kept Ovidy (Karuru) and Jimmy Dzinga because I also need them in September,” Logarušić said.
The players could not make it to South Africa because of various reasons.
“Knox called a day before we travelled and said he could not come. I lost one striker, and then Evans got injured on the last training day. Kevin Moyo called 30 hours before we travelled to say he was not coming. We then went for the COVID-19 tests and Godknows and Perfect test positive. Imagine I lost six players before we travelled. We only had Ovidy and Dzingai and the rest were just young boys,” he said.
Logarušić said he qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals after playing good games against Algeria and Botswana and his next mission is the World Cup qualifiers.
He said he could not assemble his best team for Cosafa, a tournament which is not recognised by Fifa and clubs would be reluctant to release players, hence the decision to use the competition to assess players for the future.
“I will tell you why the coach is not a disaster like what people are saying. We finished Afcon. We qualified. I completed my mission. My next mission is the World Cup. I am preparing myself for the World Cup qualifiers and then here comes Cosafa. Should I take my first team to Cosafa? A tournament that is not even on the Fifa calendar. No club in Europe would release their players. I could not call up players in Europe because it would distract them on their pre-season. Do you think our Team B could go and bring Cosafa?” the Croat asked.
He said it was unfair to use statistics against him as he went for the African Nations Championships in Cameroon with players that were inactive, after all sporting activities were banned by the government last year.
Logarušić was appointed Warriors coach in January last year and three months down the line, sport in the country was banned following the outbreak of COVID-19.
Most of the players that were called for Cosafa played a few games in the Chibuku Super Cup, which has been suspended twice.
Logarušić said the Warriors were made to play all their games inside six days, which took a toll on their fitness.
The Zifa technical committee is still awaiting a report from Logarušić on the disastrous Cosafa Cup performance before making recommendations to the executive committee on the future of the Croat and his assistants Lloyd Chitembwe and Tonderai Ndiraya and goalkeepers’ coach Tembo Chuma.
- Follow Fortune on Twitter @FortuneMbele