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Loga steals the show with a box-office performance

WELCOME ON BOARD . . . ZIFA president Felton Kamambo (second from right) hands new Warriors coach, Zdravko Logarusic, a Zimbabwe national football team jersey while acting ZIFA vice-president, Philemon Machana (left) and the gaffer’s manager, Robert Moutsinga, of Cameroon, look on in Harare yesterday

Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter

IT was quite a show!

And, the new Warriors coach, Zdravko ‘’Loga’’ Logarusic, was the showman.

For, more than an hour, he took on the country’s football media, sparring with those who landed some tough questions, embracing those who appeared to warm up to him.

He did it with the confidence of someone who knows he can deliver.

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Where many would have wilted under the barrage of questions, he took them head on, answered them with confidence and, all the time, displaying optimism he will write a success story. He looked those who asked him questions straight into their eyes, charmed some who had come with a hardline approach, and called for a united front.

Loga is probably the most colourful, and controversial, coach who has taken charge of the team.

And, he is a box-office attraction, too, with the arrogance that one needs to succeed at these levels. Loga flew into the country on Wednesday night, accompanied by his Cameroonian agent Robert Moutsinga.

The Cameroonian, through his Eagle Sport Development and Management agency, brokered the deal for Loga to coach the Warriors. The Croat’s work permit was secured on Monday. And, yesterday, Loga showed the country’s football journalists that they were in for a ride during his time with the Warriors. He rejected suggestions he was sacked in Sudan, the last job he held, saying he left because his contract had expired.

“There was political and economic crisis in Sudan so when my term lapsed, I just said goodbye . . . ,” he said.

And, he insisted he wanted to bring smiles to Zimbabweans whom, he claimed, “have suffered a lot due to economic crisis in the country.”  When asked a tough question, he suggested the journalist was not interested in football, but the politics of the game.

And, when he got a question he liked, he commended that journalist for being knowledgeable of the game.

“Zimbabwe have been to the AFCON, but never to the World Cup,’’ he said.

‘‘At AFCON, I understand, they have not been able to progress past the group stages while they have not been doing well in World Cup qualification.”

He said he believed he was the man who could provide the tactical difference to transform the Warriors. Loga said Zimbabwe had a lot of talented players, whose mental aspect of the game, needs to be transformed if the country was to take a giant leap forward.

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“To tell you a few things about me, the last 10 years that I have spent in Africa I discovered that be successful in Africa, first you have to respect the African people,’’ he said.

‘‘Respect the African culture, respect the way of living, respect how they are suffering with their lives. When you give them respect, then you will be able to work with them. I am not coming here as a Messiah.

“I have something, but I have to take the best from you and put it together to create something nice.

‘‘That is what is important for me. Secondly, most of the coaches in Europe come with a straight programme from Europe but those programmes and training methods do not work in Africa. This is a different part of the world, with a different way of living.

“All of those things can give you something but you have to take the best from Africa and connect with something from Europe and then you get results.’’

He drew inspiration from his country.

“And, coming from Croatia, a small nation of only four million people and you know how many players we have in big clubs?’’ he asked.

‘‘At least, we live football out there.

‘‘Even last year, we had eight national team coaches in different parts of the world and now we have five, I think.

‘‘From four million people, it’s amazing. 

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“I came from the lower divisions up to the national team and I always learnt something which made me to be the coach.

‘‘I will not talk so much but you will see how the Zimbabwe team will talk on the pitch because how the team plays is the signature of the coach.

“Thirdly, you will not bribe me and that means only performance will get you selected into the team. Names do not play football. Some players were in good form three months ago but now their form is going down. We want players who deliver now, that’s the reason we play four games in a year.’’

He said he believed he was a lucky man.

“I think I am lucky, maybe God is protecting me, most of the Zimbabwean players are playing competitive football in Europe and in South Africa,’’ he said.

‘‘And, most of them are in the right age to play good football. Now we have to put together all those things to get nice results and we will do it. Give me a bit of time, I am not a magician, I am just a coach.

‘‘And, I will do it to make you happy. I will do it for myself as well. I need more success than all of you put together and I am in the right place to make success.’’

HERALD