By Eddie Chikamhi
Warriors coach, Zdravko Logarusic, yesterday conceded he has to work overtime to assemble a competitive outfit after naming a 34-member squad for the CHAN tournament.
The squad features a big chunk of players who last played competitive football last year. The players include Partson Jaure, Peter Muduhwa, Ian Nekati, Valentine Kadonzvo, Tichaona Chipunza, King Nadolo, Phineas Bamusi, Wellington Taderera and Devon Chafa.
To make matters worse for the technical team, ZIFA have also disowned the proposed bubble tournament which was meant to prepare the players for competitive action.
Loga yesterday told The Herald he will now have to squeeze in a crash programme, starting this Sunday in Harare, hoping this will help his men.
“First of all, we are not looking for excuses. Our boys didn’t play competitive football this year so we have to make good use of the time that we have to prepare them for competition,’’ he said.
“We will have a maximum three weeks of training, before we leave for the CHAN tournament, in Cameroon. Remember, these are guys coming from several months of total inactivity.
“So, we have to work on fitness and tactics, we have to prepare them mentally for the challenge and we have to finalise our squad, within those three weeks.
“We will try to organise a few friendly games against some local clubs. The manager has spoken to Dynamos, Highlanders and FC Platinum.
“It’s a tall order, but we are Warriors, we are not going to Cameroon to add numbers. We have to go there and compete.’’
The CHAN tournament begins on January 16 and ends on February 7 in Cameroon.
The Warriors will have a small break for the Christmas holidays, on December 20 and then return for the final leg of the camp, eight days later.
Loga is expected to trim the squad in the first week of next month.
Since he has not seen most of the players in action, he had to rely mostly on the input of his assistants, Tonderai Ndiraya and Lloyd Chitembwe.
Logarusic has selected four experienced goalkeepers, who include Simba Chinani, Petros Mhari, Nelson Chadya and Ariel Sibanda of Highlanders.
There are also new names in the squad, such as the former Zimbabwe youth internationals Thomas Chideu and Tatenda Tavengwa, and unheralded Pawell Govere of Division One side, Golden Eagles.
“Obviously, we judged them using information of how they played last season,’’ the coach said.
“But, in terms of form, last year is not the same as this year. Worse still, it’s not the same situation for someone who has not been active for the past eight months.
“We had all expected that the Premier Soccer league bubble tournament would take place as planned.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way.
“Generally, we would have wanted a longer camp but we must give these guys some days off to be with their families for Christmas. It’s good for them and for the team as well.’’
And, just like last year’s AFCON finals in Egypt, the Warriors will get the ball rolling in the opening match against the hosts, the Indomitable Lions, on January 16.
They will play the Stallions of Burkina Faso, in the second game, and then conclude their group games against the Malian Eagles.
Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders), Simbarashe Chinani (Dynamos), Nelson Chadya (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Petros Mhari (FC Platinum)
Xolani Ndlovu (Chicken Inn), Peter Muduwa (Highlanders), Partson Jaure (Dynamos), Valentine Musarurwa (Harare City), Ian Nekati (Chicken Inn), Qadr Amini (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Frank Makarati (Ngezi Platinum), Raphael Muduviwa (FC Platinum), Pawell Govere (Golden Eagles), Andrew Mbeba (Highlanders)
Juan Mutudza (Dynamos), Valentine Kadonzvo (Chicken inn), Ralph Kawondera (FC Platinum), Trevor Mavunga (Triangle), Phenias Bamusi (CAPS United), Wellington Taderera (Ngezi Platinum), Devon Chafa (Ngezi Platinum), Kelvin Madzongwe (FC Platinum), Silas Songani (FC Platinum), Collins Dhuwa (Triangle United), Tichaona Chipunza (Chicken Inn), Ishmael Wadi (CAPS United), Leeroy Mavunga (CAPS United), Nqobizitha Masuku (Highlanders), Tatenda Tavengwa (Harare City), King Nadolo (Dynamos)
Obriel Chirinda (Chicken Inn), Stanley Ngala (FC Platinum), Thomas Chideu (Harare City), William Manondo (Harare City) .The Herald.