BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
After two underwhelming performances by the Warriors at the ongoing Cosafa Cup so far, coach Zdravko Logarusic will be in the spotlight when Zimbabwe take on Namibia in a crucial Group B encounter at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth today.
The Croatian tactician’s suitability for the national football team coaching job has been questioned in recent days after his Warriors played a lifeless draw in the opening match against Mozambique on Wednesday before pulling the match out of the fire having gone two goals down to share spoils with Malawi on Friday.
The disappointing results leave Zimbabwe with two points in two matches and needing to avoid defeat at all costs against Namibia if they are to entertain hopes of making the semi-finals.
But it is the Croatian gaffer’s record with the Warriors that makes for worrying reading having won only one of his first 10 matches in charge of the senior national team.
The coach’s tactics and team selection have also left a lot to be desired at the ongoing regional competition.
And just like he did following the African Nations Championships (Chan) nightmare in Cameroon early this year, Logarusic found a ready excuse in the inactivity of local football.
“I am happy that I finished with eight boys, who are playing in the local league. The local league did play since November 2019 and this is 2021,” the Croat said after goals from Blessing Sarupinda and Ben Musaka rescued a point for Zimbabwe on Friday.
“Instead of playing 40 to 50 games since November 2019, they have played just five games. We brought these local-based players because we are preparing for Chan next year.
“From the 23 players that usually play for me, I have only brought one player. No one is going to win or lose a place in the team because of one game, but they must show consistency.
“I have a plan, I am following my plan and I am following ideas.
“We have to think about the next game and we have to think about Chan.”
Thus far, Logarusic’s plan and ideas are seemingly digging a grave for him as his teams continue to struggle to win matches.
Initially, the plan for Logarusic was to use the Cosafa to fine-tune for World Cup qualifiers, which are tentatively set for September as well as Chan qualifiers.
And suddenly it looks like the Cosafa Cup has no bearing whatsoever on the World Cup qualifiers for the coach.
Despite leaving out some players, who impressed in the Chibuku Cup such as Ishmael Wadi, Denver Mukamba, Valentine Kadonzvo and Rodwell Chinyengetere to mention, but a few, Loga is undecided on his core team.
The coach made four changes to the team that played Mozambique in the last game and even opted to play captain Ovidy Karuru as a striker.
This is the second time that Loga has opted to improvise after he played midfielder Wellington Taderera as a striker at the Chan finals.
It would be interesting to see how he lines up his squad against Namibia — but a defeat could prove disastrous for the Warriors coach, who may be in real danger of facing the axe.
But it is Loga’s claim to fame, his only win for Zimbabwe so far a 1-0 triumph away in Botswana, that has so far insulated him from the ire of Zifa.
The win ensured Zimbabwe qualified for the Afcon finals for the third time in a row, but Loga’s deteriorating record may begin to embarrass the local football body.
Zimbabwe are the record winners of the Cosafa Cup having taken it six times and while captain Karuru says the team is out to win it again, the coach has other ambitions.
The Warriors complete their Group B matches against Senegal on Tuesday.