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Logarusic eyes Euro-based stars

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

After finally being
reunited with his family back in his native Croatia, Zimbabwe senior national football team coach Zdravko Logarusic says he will not be resting as he hopes to use his time to closely monitor the country’s Europe-based players.

The 52-year-old Croat, who is still waiting to take charge of his first match as Warriors coach since signing a two-year contract with Zifa in January this year, finally left the country a fortnight ago.

Logarusic had been stuck in the country when Zimbabwe was put on lockdown by the government in March as an intervention to combat the spread of Covid-19.

The former Sudan coach told Standardsport in an exclusive interview from his base in Croatia on Friday evening that he would be submitting a proposal to Zifa for them to make it possible for him to visit Warriors players who are based in Europe at their respective bases.

“It feels good to be back with the family, I was worried about their safety during the lockdown, but unfortunately I couldn’t return due to the lockdown. However now that I’m here in Europe I need to make use of my proximity to the players in Europe,” Logarusic said.

“Beginning of next month I will be submitting a proposal to Zifa for them to provide resources so that I can visit some of the players based here in Europe. Of course, it will depend on the financial situation at Zifa and whether they are able to provide funding, but I think it’s for the country’s benefit. It will be easy for me to visit the players in France, England, Scotland, Turkey and Belgium; it’s very easy to travel to these countries when you’re here in Europe.

Usually it’s a two-hour or one-and-a half hour flight and I will,” he said.

The outspoken Zimbabwe coach revealed that he used his time — which was spent mostly in his hotel room and later a rented apartment — watching videos of previous Warriors matches and researching about local football.

He said watching the players closely and getting feedback from their coaches on their response to training and game situations after the lockdown, would give him the necessary information he needs when international football finally returns after the Covid-19 enforced break.

“I need to meet some of the players and their coaches here or maybe watch their training sessions or matches where possible. We need to see how they come back after this setback, we have to see which players can give results at the right time, at the right place, that’s why I need to see them closely, speak with them and hopefully their coaches to get some feedback,” Logarusic said.

“Names do not play football, now we have to see who adapts quickly to play international football. I’m sure most of the players are professionals and I hope they kept themselves in good shape and I’m very confident that with the players we have we can produce results.”

Midfield enforcer Marvelous Nakamba, who plies his trade for Aston Villa in the English Premiership, headlines a strong contingent of Zimbabwean players playing their trade in Europe.

England has the highest number of Zimbabwean players based in Europe who include the likes of Tendayi Darikwa (Nottingham Forest), Macauley Bonne (Charlton Athletic), Tivonge Rushesha (Swansea City), Andy Rinomhota (Leeds United), Admiral Muskwe (Leicester City Development), Jordan Zemura (Bournemouth Under-21) and Tristan Nydman (Ipswich Town), among others.

France is home to the duo of midfielder Marshall Munetsi and red-hot striker Tino Kadewere, who play for State de Reims and Olympique Lyon respectively, while Warriors skipper is on loan at Belgian top-flight side KAS Eupen.

Highly-rated defender Teenage Hadebe is based in Turkey ,while his defensive partner Alec Mudimu is in his debut season at Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova.

Unheralded striker David Moyo has been making an impression at Scottish Premiership side Hamilton Academical and will also be keen to catch Logarusic’s attention.

Loga was appointed as Warriors coach ahead of the two back-to-back 2021 Afcon qualifiers against African champions Algeria in March.
However, the two matches, just like the 2020 Chan finals which had been set for Cameroon in April, were postponed as the world began to feel the huge impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.

In fact, it could be a while before Caf resumes the 2021 Afcon qualifiers following Fifa’s decision on Thursday to cancel September’s window for national team matches in all regions, except Europe and South America.

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