Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
ZDRAVKO “Loga” Logarusic says the Warriors will be brutally tested at the 2020 CHAN finals but has challenged them to prove they deserve to battle with the best teams on the continent.
The Warriors will face hosts Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Mali in Group A at the CHAN finals in April.
It will be Loga’s first assignment with his men.
Cameroon and Burkinabe clubs have failed to make an impression in the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup while the two nations failed to win a match at the last CHAN finals.
“First, we are not looking for any excuse, but l think our group is the toughest one,’’ said the Croatian gaffer.
“The draw is complicated but if you want to be champion, you have to beat the champions, that means our job is to go there and produce results.
“In those games, you never have favourites, because every team can produce results in one game.
‘‘For us, I think, it’s also a fantastic opportunity for Zimbabwean players to showcase themselves because this is a first game.
“First game, everyone will watch and so it is a fantastic opportunity to show to Africa how good Zimbabwe is.
“I am a bit unlucky, because we haven’t got season started. When you check Cameroon, Mali and Burkina Faso, their position on FIFA rankings are around 53, 56 and 59 (respectively).
‘‘But Zimbabwe are a bit far at position 111, that means their league and the national teams are much better ranked but that doesn’t mean anything.
“Football is not always just ranking, it’s not always the name.
“Mali players, most of them are big and most of them are strong, it’s a different physical structure, but we have our advantages and they have their advantages and let’s see which advantages will win.’’
Speaking to The Herald at a local hotel where he is staying while ZIFA are sorting out his accommodation, the Croatian said the domestic season could affect their plans.
‘‘We have some problems because the season here hasn’t started, our players don’t have match fitness,’’ he said.
“There is a break and that is the problem because that means nearly two months and there have been no games.
‘‘Problem now is match fitness, problem is how to pick up the form. It is very hard to pick up the form at the beginning of the season.
‘‘Usually players come into form in the middle of the season while some come into form in the fifth week or tenth week.
“The name of Zimbabwe team is Warriors so the Warriors will come into Cameroon to show that they are Warriors, that’s the key thing.
‘‘After Cameroon, we will know where we are. The only disadvantage is that at this moment is we haven’t got a league (underway) and we can’t see the form of the players.’’
However, he believes the underdog tag might work in their favour in their group.
“Last time with Sudan, I was the lowest ranked team, 136th position when I came into CHAN, and we finished number three,’’ he said.
‘‘We drew Morocco and then lost semi-final against Nigeria 1-0, that means I have some experience and, for sure, that will help me.
‘‘Every year, as a coach, I am learning more and more, always the same mistakes made before shouldn’t be made next time.’’
The coach has since proposed a 10-day training camp for the players.
“This week I hope we will try to organise meetings with PSL board members to give us 10 days minimum to be together and try and play two or three friendly games to know each other and see each other,’’ he said.
‘‘It will be difficult but I hope this is for the interest of Zimbabwean football and the PSL board will support us.’’
PSL chief executive, Kenny Ndebele, said the league will not be suspended for the CHAN finals.
“Zimbabwe is a top tourist destination. Zimbabwe has one of the nicest climates in the world,’’ he said.
‘‘I came from winter, minus 10 degrees Celsius, minus 5 degrees Celsius and here it’s 20 degrees Celsius, it’s fantastic.’’
Logarusic is scheduled to have his first meeting with ZIFA technical director Wilson Mutekede today upon which he will outline his plan to the association.