By Tadious Manyepo
Warriors coach, Zdravko Logarusic, has received the backing of his fellow coaches who are happy with the players he selected for the final two AFCON qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia next month.
The gaffer, who is waiting for his work permit as he remains holed up at home in Croatia, announced a 38-member bloated squad of players.
The Warriors take on the Botswana Zebras on March 25, before a date against Chipolopolo, four days later.
He said the bloated squad was a result of fears that some players, as many as 10, might fail to report for national duty, due to Covid-19 restrictions, in the countries they are based.
Those based in England such as Aston Villa midfielder, Marvelous Nakamba, Jordan Zemura of Bournemouth, Brendon Galloway of Luton, Wycombe Wanderers’ Admiral Muskwe and Wigan Athletic’s Tendayi Darikwa are a major doubt for the two matches.
The United States-based duo of Tendai Jirira and ‘keeper Tatenda Mukuruva are also likely to miss both fixtures.
There is also concern over the availability of some key players, including the injured trio of captain Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat and Marshall Munetsi.
Musona, though, told fans he was optimistic of joining the Warriors for their next two assignments.
Asked by a number of followers, about his recovery programme, and if he will be fit for the two games, he said: “Thanks for asking, getting there day by day. Only time will tell.”
Quizzed by another fan, Emmanuel Dziva, if he would be joining camp, Musona simply replied: “Yes sir.”
Yesterday, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Coaches Association, Bheki Nyoni, who is also the BN Academy director, said he was happy with Loga’s choices.
“I think, looking at what is on the ground right now, naming an enlarged squad, is a good idea taking into account the Covid-19 situation, which is prevailing at the moment,” said Nyoni.
“The technical team, and ZIFA, did very well in this regard.
“No one is sure about who will come, and who won’t make it, to the camp, so, it was always good that the technical team consider those things.
“At the moment, the Covid-19 protocol in England might see all those Warriors, plying their trade in that country, failing to come.
“There are also chances that those based in the United States may as well fail to pitch up, like they did in the last double header, against Algeria late last year.’’
Nyoni said injuries were also a major concern and there was need to have a wider base to ultimately choose from.
“There are also concerns about those who are nursing injuries. There are no guarantees that, by the time of the games, they would have fully recovered,’’ he said.
“So, it was prudent that the coach included a wider number of professionals, which I am totally happy with.
“There are those who are active, at the moment, playing in South Africa and in Zambia. There are also those currently active in the Tanzanian league.”
Ngezi Platinum coach, Rodwell Dhlakama, said while he was happy with the composition of the team although his main concern was the inclusion of only one player, from FC Platinum.
Only Brian Banda made the list but Dhlakama said, for a team which has been active since December last year playing continental football, the technical team were supposed to include more players from them.
“I am satisfied, especially when looking at the composition of the team, I think those are the best players Zimbabwe has,’’ he said.
“Of course, here and there, people may not agree but, basically, these are the best professional players we have as a country.
“But, I feel that there was need to include several players from FC Platinum. There is a possibility that 10, or so players, may fail to pitch up for the qualifiers and when we look at the local players, those at FC Platinum are match fit.
“The most important principle in this case is fitness.
“FC Platinum have been playing on the continent, for the past three months, and their players are almost 100 percent match fit.
“I feel more that more FC Platinum players, than just Brian Banda, deserved to be in the team, especially considering the uncertainty surrounding the availability of some of the players.”
Chapungu gaffer, Moses “Bambo” Chunga, said there was need for football to quickly return, in the country, to help the Warriors gaffer in his quest to take the national team to the AFCON finals.
“I am making a passionate appeal, to the authorities, for football to return, we need to be playing the game, just like what other countries are doing,’’ said the former Warriors skipper.
“It’s a source of our livelihood and we also need to prepare players, for national assignments, like these upcoming qualifiers.
“There are about seven locally-based players in the Warriors provisional side. It’s sad they could be the ones who will form the core of the team, against Botswana and Zambia, given the complications brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It would be good if they were fit but, without football being played in the country, well, I don’t know, but I am appealing to the authorities to consider bringing back football.” The Herald