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Loga now in a better mood

by Staff reporter
13 Aug 2021 at 05:41hrs | Views
WARRIORS coach, Zdravko Logarusic, is hoping his players will get the game time they badly need to put them into fine shape  for the two FIFA World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Ethiopia.

Zimbabwe will host South Africa at the National Sports Stadium on September 3 before taking on Ethiopia four days later. The South Africa Premiership, where the majority of Loga's players are based, gets underway this weekend, with the MTN8 quarterfinals.

Khama Billiat, who suffered recurring injuries last season, is back to fitness and expected to play a part when Kaizer Chiefs travel to Pretoria, for a clash against his former paymasters, Mamelodi Sundowns, on Sunday.    Divine Lunga, who recently moved to Sundowns, is also expected to be involved.  

Knox Mutizwa's Golden Arrows host Kuda Mahachi and Onismor Bhasera's SuperSport United in Durban tomorrow. Midfielder Marshall Munetsi has featured for his French team Stade de Reims, in the opening matches of the Ligue 1, last week.

Compatriot Tino Kadewere was an unused substitute in Olympique Lyon's 1-1 draw against Brest.  Skipper Knowledge Musona is expected to plunge into action tomorrow, when his Saudi Arabian side, Al Tai, begin their season in the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Professional Cup with a clash against Al Hilal.

Midfielder Marvelous Nakamba, who is tipped for a bigger role at English Premiership side Aston Villa, could make his first start of the season tomorrow, when they face Watford, a club he is now linked with. United States-based defender Teenage Hadebe has featured five times, since he moved to the Major League Soccer side, Dynamo Houston, last month.

Loga, who has retreated back to his native Croatia following a family emergency, and is only expected in Harare on August 25, will be monitoring the performance of the Warriors from his home nation. Team manager, Wellington Mpandare, said the foreign leagues have begun at the right time for the Warriors ahead of their 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

"The coach is happy most of the guys have been in intensive pre-season and they are now going into the season,'' he said. "I have been talking to some of the players and they are excited too.

"It's good these guys are now playing competitive games and they would have played three, or four games, by the time the World Cup qualifiers come around.  

"So, they will be fresh and raring to go. "It's unfortunate the coach had an emergency and had to rush back to Croatia but he is monitoring all the developments, and all the action, from there.  

"He has access to all the big leagues and will surely not miss the games involving Zimbabwean players, earmarked for national duty, next month. "The biggest stumbling block is probably the Covid-19 situation. We are yet to hear FIFA's position on the issue of travel restrictions, and the release of players.''  

Musona is expected to start for his team Al Tai, when they begin the season tomorrow, with the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Professional Cup clash against Al Hilal.

Musona spent the last two weeks in training camp in Egypt with his new teammates.  

"Musona has been in intensive pre-season and they toured Egypt. He tells me they have recently been training at night, because of the high temperatures,'' said Mpandare.  

"We are also happy for Tendayi Darikwa. He was recently named captain of his team and that's a big plus for us.  

"But, I was not surprised because I know the leadership qualities that he possesses, apart from the hard work he puts in. Anyone who has worked with him will testify to this.

"It's good to have more people with leadership qualities in the team. Congratulations to him.''

Darikwa and the other players, in the lower tiers of the English football league like Jordan Zemura of Championship side Bournemouth, Admiral Muskwe and Brendan Galloway of Plymouth Argyle, have already kicked off the new season.

However, Ovidy Karuru and Alec Mudimu are still hunting for new clubs.  The injured duo of Prince Dube and Terrence Dzvukamanja are expected to have recovered on time for the World Cup games.  

Mpandare is expected to represent the Warriors at the 2021 AFCON draw in Yaounde on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Warriors moved one place down the ladder in the latest FIFA rankings.  They are now ranked 108th in the world, according to the rankings released today.  They also dropped two places in Africa, where they now sit on number 26.

FIFA had to factor in all the international tournaments, and matches played during the three-month period, to come up with the latest rankings.  The Warriors failed to utilise the FIFA window for international friendlies in June but were involved in the COSAFA Cup in South Africa last month.  The team returned home winless.

"There wasn't much that has been happening with our team during that period. The movements are usually determined by the number of games played and the calibre of opponents that you play.

"So, if you play smaller opponents, you don't expect much unlike when you face the likes of Algeria or South Africa and win. "So, that is the aim, when we play more competitive games, in the next few months.''

Bafana Bafana climbed up the table, thanks to their recent COSAFA Cup triumph, and now occupy the 73rd spot, on the global standings, and 13th on the African continent. The South Africans are on a seven-match unbeaten streak, which includes six wins and a draw, culminating in their COSAFA Cup triumph, since May, when the previous rankings were released.

Meanwhile, ZIFA have congratulated Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, Kirsty Coventry, on receiving an Order of the Star Zimbabwe gold medal, from President Mnangagwa. "Zimbabwean youths and sportspersons should be proud to have such an outstanding representative in Government,'' the association said.

Source - the herald
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