WARRIORS gaffer Zdravko “Loga” Logarusic has defended the inclusion of Ovidy Karuru (pictured) in his 24-man provisional Warriors squad for the back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against the reigning champions Algeria in a week’s time.
BY TERRY MADYAUTA
Karuru is currently unattached after he parted ways with South Africa’s DStv premiership side Stellenbosch under unclear circumstances, but Logarusic is optimistic the midfielder will add more impetus to his arsenal amid question marks over his inclusion.
Addressing a Press conference in Harare yesterday, Logarusic said Karuru’s previous exploits for the Warriors helped him earn a spot in the provisional squad, admitting that he was charmed by his commitment.
“When we made the squad, we did not know where Ovidy was and we made the squad not knowing whether they were changing clubs or not. I spoke to him and he showed commitment, saying that he was working. He also told me that he was not injured,” Loga said.
“When I talked to my assistants, they told me he was one of the best players when the Warriors played against Botswana and Zambia. That means he didn’t disappoint when he played for the country last time.
“For the moment if Ovidy does not have a club, I think that’s part of this sport and in the future he will still be part of this sport. Those in South Africa have only played two games that means if he did not play the last two games we should not chase him away especially considering that he impressed in the previous games. He should be part of this squad because eventually, we will have 23 players to travel. We know our 15 players, but the other seven, we have to think about the future.
“We have King Nadolo there because we also have the Chan [African Nations Championship] and those boys should be comfortable to avoid them relaxing. We must give them a chance.”
Assistant coach Llyod Chitembwe also stood by their decision affirming that Karuru will help the squad grind a positive result.
“The whole idea on Ovidy is that we are trying to come up with a team that is good enough to give us what we can expect, a team that is good enough to represent the country,” said Chitembwe.
“I think all these years, Ovidy has played an important part within the set-up and one thing which is undisputed is that he is a quality player. He proved against Botswana when we played them at the National Sports Stadium. He equally proved this when we played away to Zambia.
“The point here is that he is unattached, he is neither here nor there, the South African league is still in its infancy and they have just played two games. I am sure he deserves a chance, let’s give the coach a chance to assess the player’s fitness. I am sure he has the intelligence to play and give us what we want.”
While Karuru’s inclusion has been questioned, perhaps the other selection question mark is the inclusion of Tendai Darikwa who has not been having game time at his England Championship side Nottingham forest.
Darikwa was injured just before the 2019-2020 season started and has been on the sidelines since then as he is yet to feature for Forest in the current season.
Meanwhile Loga says he is not reading much into Algeria’s winning streak, but is rather focused on oiling the Warriors squad to grind a positive result.
In their latest outings, Algeria beat former African Champions Nigeria 1-0 before settling for a 2-2 draw against Mexico.
“First we have to know where we are. We are in a country where there is no lots of money involved in football and even the league is not there. Most of our players have not even player like those in South Africa who played after six or seven months.
“Also looking at the kind of money our opponents have but this is football, they showed that they have quality and we must respect their results but not to over respect because we have also to show the best of us but were not giving up. We are not going there with a white flag for peace, we are going there to play and see where exactly we are.
“To see whether our players are rusty or not, to talk on the field of play. Players must talk on field. We want to show our best, if they are better, we will shake hands and go there to make something not just going there to participate as if these are Olympic games.”
Logarusic also took time to explain how he picked his men, and is hoping the lessons learnt for the poor planning debacle ahead of the Warriors friendly match against Malawi would help them for a better expedition.
“First we learnt our lesson against Malawi and I can tell you, we made a squad of 25 players and have already sent letters to the clubs and we are waiting for them to confirm.
“I was talking individually to each player to see if they were ready to represent Zimbabwe in the national team, that’s to feel the commitment from each player that is why we were not hurrying to announce the squad until we were sure about the commitment of the players and also about some office work, thus passports and visas.
“I was talking to 25 players and two or three of them did not show proper commitment which we expected and that they should be ready to represent Zimbabwe and when I realised doubts, I immediately stopped conversations with them, so that they stay where they are. We don’t need them to play for Warriors if they are not Warriors.
“We are also facing some challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic being faced in France, England, Belgium and even the United States. Things can change anytime, but we are hoping for the best,” he said.
He said they had a back-up plan for the players who are playing in countries where COVID-19 restrictions might hinder them from honouring the call-up. The players are the France-based pair of Marshal Munetsi and Tino Kadewere as well as US-based pair of Tatenda Mukuruva and Tendai Jirira.
Goalkeepers: Elvis Chipezeze, Talbert Shumba, Tatenda Mukuruva
Defenders: Jimmy Dzingai, Alec Mudimu, Jordan Zemura, Teenage Hadebe, Tendai Jirira, Divine Lunga, Tendai Darikwa, Adam Chicksen
Midfieders: Marshall Munetsi, Ovidy Karuru, Butholezwe Ncube, Tafadzwa Rusike, Kuda Mahachi, Knowledge Musona,Terrence Dzvukamanja, King Nadolo, Marvellous Nakamba, Khama Billiart
Strikers: Tino Kadewere, David Moyo, Prince Dube