insidesport:with MICHAEL KARIATI
A NEW coach, out-ofform players and an uncoordinated preparation schedule, is not what Zimbabwe football fans would have wanted of their Warriors as they seek a path to Afcon 2022.
Over the past 40 years, the Warriors have faced too many problems, but never has the situation boiled over to the extent that a new coach — and, for that matter, foreign — has not been accorded friendly matches to have a look at the sort of players he has at his disposal.
On that premise, there is every reason to feel a measure of sympathy for Warriors’ new Croatian coach Zdravko Logarušic who is taking charge of the Warriors under such circumstances.
In short, Logarušic — who refused to have Joey Antipas as his assistant — will have to pick his team blindly at a time some of the once trusted Warriors players have lost their touch.
The question is: How can Zifa fail to organise even a single friendly match for their team when they are on a solid financial footing after receiving the Caf and Fifa
Covid-19 relief funds?
What is even disturbing is that the football federation have not been able to give a satisfactory explanation as to why between now and November they cannot organise a warm-up match even against fellow Southern African nations.
Fine, Covid-19 has come with its effects, but to blame our failure to pick up the phone and talk to other national football federations to propose a friendly match would be exaggerating the impact of the pandemic.
Now our national team coach will have to play a guessing game in selecting the team to do duty for Zimbabwe in those back-to-back matches against Algeria, the reigning Africa champions.
Logarušic’s most crucial decision would be as to whether or not to rely on the same old players who served Zimbabwe so well under Sunday Chidzambga and Kalisto Pasuwa before him.
Making it even worse is the fact that most of Zimbabwe’s top players have been struggling in the Absa Premiership in South Africa while Knowledge Musona is still to impress at KAS Eupen in Belgium.
Warriors’ talisman Khama Billiat is at the centre of a heated debate in South Africa on how his game has gone off the boil since moving from Mamelodi Sundowns to Kaiser Chiefs.
Goalkeeper George Chigova, Walter Musona and Charlton Mashumba have been relegated to the National First Division while Ovidy Karuru, Talent
Chawapihwa and Butholezwe Ncube spent most of their time battling relegation with Amazulu.
The usually reliable Kuda Mahachi was not all that impressive for Kaitano Tembo’s Supersport as he spent most of his time warming up the bench.
Logarušic should also be concerned that Marvelous Nakamba failed to sparkle at Aston Villa while Tino Kadewere is still to get a run in a competitive match at Lyon and his current form is unknown.
There are those few who sparkled in the just-ended season, the likes of Knox Mtizwa of Golden Arrows, Macauley Bonne of Charlton Athletic and Terence Dzvukamanja of Bidvest Wits, but all of them are strikers.
It will not be easy for Logarušic, but the rules are clear that Zimbabwe should field a team and the national coach will have to come up with the best he can think off or the best he is advised to pick.
There is further trouble in the sense that with only a month to go, the players and the nation at large do not have an idea as to where the Zimbabwe team will play its home games.
The problem of an alternative venue in a foreign land should have been resolved long before the advent of Covid-19, but that was not done for reasons best known to those running the Zimbabwean game.
Zifa have made things difficult for themselves and will now have to deal with the issue of where the Warriors will play their next home game and the welfare of the Warriors itself at the same time.
It is a fact that crises are not new to the Warriors, but if Zimbabwe can overcome the mounting football problems they have right now, then the Warriors will surmount everything that will come their way — including qualifying for World Cup 2022.
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