By Ngqwele Dube
Warriors coach, Zdravko Logarusic has sought to deflect criticism being levelled at him for the national team’s poor performance at the African Nations Championships, heaping blame on poor preparations instead.
Zimbabwe was the first country to be eliminated from the tournament in Cameroon and football fans have been questioning whether Logarusic was the right person to lead the senior men’s national team. The coach believes failure to have a running league and poor preparations worked against the Warriors but heaped praise on his players saying they put up a good show despite the circumstances.
He said it was unfortunate the proposed mini-league for Premier Soccer League teams failed to kick off making Zimbabwe one of the few countries that do not have a running league. The Chan tournament features home-based players. Zimbabwe produced their worst performance since the inception of the tournament in 2009, losing all three of their group matches.
“Without a running league, it was going to be difficult to get players in their top football condition as they spent the whole season without playing official football. Yes, they might have trained with their teams but that was not adequate. Again, we got the green light to start training late,” he said.
The Croat said most players put in only 10 hours of training before leaving for Cameroon with only eight having fine-tuned for a total of 20 hours as they trained with local teams. He said during training games with local teams the players would only feature for 45 minutes meaning no player was on the pitch for 60 or 90 minutes of any practice game.
Logarusic said their plans for friendly matches against other national teams were dealt a blow when there was a Covid-19 outbreak in the Warriors camp forcing the players to go into quarantine and losing 10 days of practice time.
He however, praised his team saying they played well and were unlucky results did not come their way, adding that losing 1-0 to favourites Cameroon and Mali showed that they were on the right track.
“Although we did not complain, that Cameroon goal came off a player in an offside position while one of their players had also handled before the goal was scored. To hold the hosts in that manner despite the preparations is a sign the players did well. Against Mali, we also held our own particularly considering we had four young players who feature in the Under-23 team, Andrew Mbeba, Tatenda Tavengwa, Nelson Chadya, and Shadrack Nyahwa.
“Coming out with such a scoreline shows the talent we have and how well we played despite not being fully fit,” said Loga.
He blamed individual mistakes for the 3-1 loss to Burkina Faso attributing the blunders to fatigue. Loga said fans should also look at positives such as the snapping up of defender, Peter Mudhuwa by Tanzanian side, Simba and he revealed another player was also about to be snapped up by Zambian side, Nkana FC. The Sunday News