Sports

LIGHT AND DARKNESS…A tale of our two foreign coaches

Lalchand Rajput

Eddie Chikamhi
Senior Sports Reporter
THEY are in charge of the country’s two biggest sporting disciplines, both are expatriate technical experts and have huge international assignments early next year.

But, that’s where their similarities end.

Indian coach, Lalchand Rajput, the man in charge of the Chevrons, has everything going right for him.

Croatian gaffer, Zdravko Logarusic, the man in charge of the Warriors, has a number of tough hurdles in his path.

When Rajput’s men went in search of their first ICC World Cup qualifying points, the red carpet was rolled for them — at home and in Pakistan.

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They spent time in a bio-secure environment, preparing for their series in Pakistan, where they picked 10 of the 30 World Cup qualifying points available.

The Chevrons are back home and, once again, they are set to go into another bio-secure environment next Wednesday as part of preparations for their international assignments next year.

Football, on the other hand, is currently embroiled in turmoil, with the proposed two-week tournament, which was supposed to start this week in a similar bio-secure environment, now a huge doubt.

The tournament was meant to prepare Loga and his Warriors for the upcoming CHAN tournament in Cameroon next year.

But with a few weeks left, the Warriors are likely to leave for the tournament without the boost which some competitive games would have provided for the players.

Premiership players were tested for Covid-19 once, last month, and the football bubble tournament is set to suffer a stillbirth.

ZIFA, who received US$1.8 million from CAF and FIFA to help prepare for the resumption of football, following the Covid-19 disruptions, this week said the tourney was never their baby.

“Needless to say that ZIFA is daily lambasted, on this decision, yet this was an SRC concept given to the Ministry,’’ the association said in a statement.

“ZIFA was only invited to implement. At the time, ZIFA requested that the SRC fund the concept, which we found elitist and expensive, ZIFA and PSL were asked to provide a budget and asked that they also contribute to which ZIFA have since done its bit through funding for Covid tests.

“Sadly, and again while ZIFA chose to remain silent, the nation was fed with lies by the SRC that ZIFA requested this and had promised to fund the concept.

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“ZIFA is in possession of its own all-inclusive write up to the SRC for resumption of football, which did not include the bubble, and also the one from the SRC, which had the bubble but, again, inaccurate information has been conveyed to the public by the SRC through the media. Maybe

In contrast ZC, on the other hand, are good to go after setting up a bio-secure bubble for their month-long tournament.

Zdravko Logarusic

The domestic cricket season was supposed to get underway today, with the first-class Logan Cup competition.

ZC have , however, pushed the opening games to next week, to allow for more time to work on the complex bubble logistics.

“We are happy to have the domestic cricket season getting underway,” said ZC director of cricket Hamilton Masakadza.

“It is something huge, it goes a long way in preparing players for international cricket.

“We have lot of international cricket coming up next year. Remember, we need to catch up with some of the games that were postponed this year because of coronavirus.

“This makes the domestic season doubly important.”

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The four-day Logan Cup is expected to run throughout this month and then give way to the one-day tournament.

ZC recently revived club cricket, when they held the inaugural the National Premier League, which was won by Takashinga.

Zimbabwe are likely to reschedule some of their international assignments against Australia and India, which were postponed this year, as these tours are part of the World Cup Super League.

The league will culminate in the 2023 World Cup qualification.

Zimbabwe’s international cricket calendar is expected to get underway in February next year when they play Afghanistan.

The series, which comprises three tests and as may T20 Internationals, will be held in India.

The Chevrons have also confirmed home assignments against Pakistan in April, Bangladesh in June and Afghanistan towards the end of the year.

“One of the things that we wanted to achieve with the NPL was to give these guys a chance that they might not be able to get and I am happy we achieved that,’’ said Masakadza.

“But, since we are starting with the four-day game, we might not be able to see most of the guys who did well in the NPL.

“I am certain, though, that there will be four or five guys who will make their bow.

“At the moment we are now in the final phase of on the provincial squads. We are still talking to the players and I am sure in a day, or two, we should be able to finalise everything.

“But, what I am sure of is that there were some fine performers like Tapiwa Bechani and a couple of other guys.

“A number of these guys are involved with the provincial teams with the hope of getting contracts.’’

The four-day tournament will now get underway next Wednesday, with Mountaineers facing Eagles while Tuskers will be taking on Rhinos.

Southern Rocks, back in the elite domestic competitions for the first time since the 2013/14 season, will be on a bye.

They will  only get into action against Tuskers in the next round of Logan Cup fixtures scheduled for December 15-18.

Rhinos and Eagles will clash in the same week, before the Christmas break.

ZC said all the matches will be played at venues in Harare.

“This will see up to 100 players and support staff first getting tested for the coronavirus before they can check into strictly controlled accommodation facilities,” said ZC in a statement.

Apart from being expected to strictly adhere to all Covid-19 protocols, such as sanitisation and social distancing, all individuals within the bubble will be monitored daily, through temperature and symptom checks.

HERALD