By Don Makanyanga
ZIFA have thrown their weight behind under-fire Warriors coach Zdravko “Loga’’ Logarusic, insisting the Croat’s recent failure at the African Nations Championships (CHAN) tournament was a result of a combination of factors, and not his technical shortcomings.
Both Loga and the association have recently come up for heavy criticism following the Warriors’ lifeless show at the CHAN competition, in which they became the first team to bow out of the tournament in Cameroon. The Warriors returned home last week, having failed to register a single point.
They managed just one goal — scored by defender Partson Jaure — from their Group A games against Cameroon, Burkina Faso, and Mali.
Loga and his men now have the ignominious record of being the worst Warriors outfit at any CAF or COSAFA tournament.
The 55-year-old coach is yet to win a game in the six matches he has been in charge since signing the deal to coach the Warriors in January last year.
Loga has drawn twice and lost four times, becoming the first Warriors coach to fail to register a win in six matches.
Despite his poor start, ZIFA, through board member for development Brighton Malandule, threw their weight behind the coach.
However, they still expect the technical team to submit a report on what transpired at the CHAN tournament.
“The technical team will submit a report of the tournament, which will be reviewed by the technical and development committee (TDC).
“It is the TDC which then makes a report to the board, and it is only the board that can hire or fire a coach.
“I have already instructed the technical team to submit their report,” said Malandule, who was the Warriors head of delegation in Cameroon.
Although the rest of the Warriors returned home last week, Malandule stayed put in Cameroon while Loga headed to his native Croatia.
The ZIFA board member blamed inadequate preparations as the major reason for the poor showing.
“I don’t want to speak for the technical team but people should not forget that we had no preparations for CHAN to speak about.
“Football was only opened for the Malawi friendly, AFCON qualifiers, and COSAFA preparations.
“Only towards December were clubs allowed to train,” said Malandule.
Friday marked Loga’s first full year in charge of the Warriors, and despite his pedigree being questioned, the Croat believes the poor performance of the senior team at the CHAN tournament should be attributed to poor preparations.
“Let me say a few things about the CHAN tournament because after every competition you have so many comments, some reasonable while others negative, but those making unreasonable comments were not involved and do not know how many problems we had in preparation for the tournament,” he said.
“With the players that did not have adequate preparation and players that did not play any official football in such a long time, results are not something special.
“We only had ten two-hour training sessions, which translates to 20 hours of preparation before a serious tournament.
“The results are not bad, especially with two big teams, Cameroon and Mali. It is not bad,” said Loga.
Although he was contracted in January, Loga was only unveiled a month later and promised “to bring smiles on Zimbabweans’’.
“And, I will do it to make you happy. I will do it for myself as well. I need more success than all of you put together and I am in the right place to make success,” said Loga during his unveiling ceremony.
That has remained a pipe dream so far.
Loga, however, has the Warriors’ remaining Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Zambia and Botswana to redeem himself.
With Group H leaders and reigning African champions Algeria having already sealed their place, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana must now battle for the remaining slot. The Warriors, in second place with five points, are in a delicate situation in which only a point separates them from third-placed Botswana, while they are two points ahead of bottom-placed Zambia.
They will visit Botswana on March 22 before completing their assignment with a Battle of the Zambezi clash against Zambia at home a week later. The Sunday Mail