INSIDE SPORT MICHAEL KARIATI
THE race to fill Africa’s five slots at the 2022 World Cup is just around the corner and it’s time for Zimbabwe to abandon football politics and focus on the real work at hand.
Much of the time is being spent on a less interesting football political game of chess forgetting that there are far more important issues like the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, which need attention.
The upcoming World Cup qualifiers will also double up as the Warriors’ preparations for January’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals, highlighting the need for more energy to be accorded to the national soccer team.
Unfortunately, the Zdravko Logarusic issue seems to have clouded everything and his disastrous run has now been turned into a tool for the internal battles that have always dominated Zimbabwean football.
Now and then — here and there — the story is about Loga, and specifically, what he has done, where he came from, who brought him, his salary, but not where to find the money to bankroll the Warriors’ September 1 World Cup qualifier against South Africa.
What is disturbing is that the players themselves are also being dragged into this power struggle at a time they should be looking forward to fulfilling their World Cup dream with their national team.
The fact remains that Loga has been a big disappointment, but the question is whether this is the right time to get rid of him and appoint a new coach?
Another question is whether the new coach will be able to bond with the players in the same way Loga has done in the few days he will meet them before a World Cup game?
From what we saw from the Warriors’ matches against Algeria and Botswana, the players were willing to give their best for Loga and for Zimbabwe. Will they do the same for a new coach they would have known for two or three days?
A number of local coaches’ names are being thrown around as possible replacements for the Croatian, but the question is: Why in the first place did Zifa abandon the local coach policy and go foreign?
Won’t that local coach be lured by the power of money and end up being involved in match-fixing? Will he be respected by the cash-rich players, some of whom are earning tens if not hundreds of thousands of US dollars in one month?
That is not all. Does that local coach possess the technical know-how to handle a team at the highest level like the World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals?
For the record: We have qualified for the Afcon finals under local coaches, Sunday Chidzambwa in 2004 and 2019, Charles Mhlauri in 2006, and Kalisto Pasuwa in 2017, and on all occasions, Zimbabwe failed to go beyond the group stages.
What came out from that experience was that our coaches were no match or fell short of the tactics which were at play at the continental football festival.
It should also be noted that the Warriors already have two local handlers Tonderai Ndiraya and Lloyd Chitembwe, who are Loga’s assistants and have also contributed to the team’s current standing.
Some are of the opinion that Zimbabwe should follow the Zambian example where the Football Association of Zambia fired Serbian Milutin Sredojevic after the Cosafa Cup and replaced him with a local Beston Chambeshi.
The truth, however, is that Chambeshi is not the man at the helm of the Chipolopolo, but a foreigner, Alijosa Asanovic, the technical advisor from Croatia. The Chipolopolo also have two foreign assistants, Karol Prazenica of Slovakia and Stefan Carevic of Serbia.
More importantly is the fact that Zambia have the money to pay their coaches huge salaries, but Zimbabwe does not have. The only European coaches that Zimbabwe can afford are those of Loga’s standing and not the respectable ones.
Those not in the know-how, Micho was earning US$25 000 a month, that is, US$15 000 from FAZ and US$10 000 from the government of Zambia while Loga gets US$7 000 from Zifa.
On that premise, what we have is what we can afford although the choice of the man himself could have been different.
If it was three or two months ago, it would have been advisable to fire the blundering Loga, but with the World Cup qualifiers less than a month away, it is best we stick to the Croatian.
In the meantime, please give Loga breathing space to do his work freely and wait to see how far he can take us as far as the World Cup is concerned
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