Sports

Why Loga has chopped, changed squad

Zdravko Logarusic

Tadious Manyepo
Sports Reporter
WARRIORS coach Zdravko Logarusic insists the initial 34-member provisional squad he called into camp to prepare for the Chan football finals was only meant to be a starting point.

The Croat tactician said he was targeting to select other players who could fit his style of play from the proposed mini-tournament that had been scheduled for this month in a bio-secure bubble.

But the tournament failed to take off, forcing Loga to create his own bubble.

The Warriors mentor, who was appointed in February this year and took charge of the back-to-back 2021 AFCON qualifiers against continental champions Algeria, has of late become a subject of ridicule over the manner in which he has kept on chopping and changing his squad.

Loga has turned to the unorthodox way of selecting players for the national team as he has been playing practice matches against Premiership and First Division clubs.

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“We are behind in every aspect of the game. We are the only country in our Chan group without an active league,” said Logarusic.

“My plan was to watch every team playing in the mini-tournament and I would have wanted to select based on their form not on their past capabilities.

“Unfortunately, the mini-tournament failed to take off and I was left in a dilemma.

“I then sought to play as many practice matches as I could against Premiership teams and even lower division sides. What I have done is dropping those I thought didn’t fit into the philosophy as quickly as possible and taking aboard those I thought could grasp concepts quickly.

“It’s not to say the players we have dropped are bad, no. Look players have not been active for close to a year and instead of having over 150 training sessions with their teams maybe they have trained just 10 times with their teams during the period training has been taking place.

“We had to do it that way since we knew for sure we could leave the best players out if we stuck with past performances like we did when selecting the initial squad.

“We will work with the selected team from December 28, working on combinations and tactical play until we leave (for the Chan tournament). This is not to say we have enough time but at least we should have players with the expected basics to work with. It pains me a lot to drop a player from the squad but it has to be done, however, painful.”

Over the weeks, Loga dropped such players who people thought could form the core of his squad, including Ishmael Wadi, William Manondo, Simba Chinani, Juan Mutudza and Phineas Bhamusi. He has also shut the door on six FC Platinum players who he couldn’t get on request last week.

Loga selected six players from the Premiership champions, including goalkeeper Petros Mhari, Raphael Muduviwa, Kelvin Madzongwe, Stanley Ngala and Silas Songani, but he decided to leave them with their club who are playing in the CAF Champions League.

FC Platinum take on Simba of Tanzania in the first leg of the second preliminary round on Wednesday before they travel to Dar es Salaam for the return fixture on January 5, 2021.

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But Loga had requested that he needed to have a two-day assessment of the players last week to which he didn’t get a positive response.

“As it stands, I am not taking the FC Platinum players on board. I wanted to have some assessment of them but they couldn’t be released.

“I know they are playing in the CAF Champions League and we support them since they are representing the country.

“But by the time they play in Tanzania, we will be four, five days from leaving for Cameroon, so we may not take any of them aboard.”

Loga got some hint of what to expect when his team faces West African opposition in Group A of the Chan finals when his team failed to break a Dynamos side boasting of Cameroonian Albert Eonde and Ghana defender Stephen Appiah last Friday.

Eonde scored a hat-trick to help Dynamos win the match 3-2 against the Warriors.

Zimbabwe face Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Mali in their pool at the Chan tournament.

“I am happy to get a test of what it is like playing against the West Africans. It was a good game and we faced some stiff resistance (against Dynamos). We will have to improve in a lot of areas.”

HERALD

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