Is Loga fated to make history? Zdravco Logarusic

Robson Sharuko-Senior Sports Editor

SOME people are born great, some achieve greatness while some have greatness thrust upon them.

It was William Shakespeare, who introduced the world to this phrase, in his romantic comedy Twelfth Night, almost 420 years ago.

Today, maybe, we could also say some people are born with a lucky charm, some deserve a dosage of good fortune while others have luck thrust upon them.

Take for instance Frane Selak, who cheated death seven times, including being the only survivor when a train derailed, plunged into a river, killing 17 other passengers.

Then, a faulty plane door sent him tumbling out of the aircraft, while flying from Zagreb to Rijeka, only for him to land in the safety of a haystack.

The other 19 passengers all lost their lives, in the subsequent crash.

Having decided he would never fly again, a bus he boarded plunged into a river, killing four passengers, while he escaped unscathed.

He then survived the explosion of his car’s fuel tank.

And, somehow, he also managed to escape from his car, just before it was hit by a United Nations truck in 1996 and, from a distance, watched his vehicle explode into a fireball.

Two days before his 73rd birthday, in June 2002, Selak, a music teacher, won the lottery and his jackpot was a staggering US$1.1 million.

He still lives to this day and, on June 14, this year, he celebrated his 92nd birthday. 

Selak is a Croat and, maybe, his incredible run of lucky breaks is something to do with natives of his small European country, on the shores of the Adriatic Sea.

Three years ago, Croatia became the lowest-ranked country to reach the FIFA World Cup final, which some consider a football miracle.

With a population of just over four million people, they are also the smallest nation, since Uruguay in 1950, to play in the final of football’s biggest tournament.

Now, another Croat, Zdravko Logarusic, has a real possibility of securing his place in Zimbabwean football folklore.

And, all that he probably needs, could just be two victories, in 19 matches, for him to become the most successful Warriors coach ever.

Just two wins, over Botswana and Malawi, could be enough for Loga to seal his immortality, as the first coach, to take the Warriors to a level, they have never reached, at the AFCON finals.

A victory over the Flames, in Cameroon, next January, might just be enough to help Loga become the first coach, to take the Warriors, beyond the group stages, of the tournament.

With the top two teams, in the six groups, qualifying automatically for the knockout rounds, the four best runners-up will also join them, in the Round of 16.

The DRC, South Africa and Benin picked just three, out of a possible nine points, in their group matches, at the 2019 AFCON finals.

But, this  was still good enough to take them to the Round of 16, as the best of the third-placed sides.

This means Loga, who will be making his debut appearance as a coach at the Nations Cup finals, defeats to group favourites Senegal and Guinea, might not be the end of his team’s adventure in Cameroon.

Victory over Malawi, the only country which Loga has played, more than once, without losing a game to, since he took over as Warriors coach, could be enough to take Zimbabwe into the Round of 16.

If that happens, Loga will become the first Warriors coach, to drag his team, beyond the group stages of a Nations Cup finals.

That will give him the licence to brag he is the greatest coach to guide the team.

Call it another Croatian Miracle, or whatever, but that’s the brutal reality about this game, where everything is judged on success.

That Reinhard Fabisch took the Dream Team, to within one win, of a place at the World Cup finals, will be dismissed as irrelevant.

And, that Sunday Chidzambwa became the first coach to take the Warriors to the AFCON finals, will count for nothing, drowned by the chorus of the praise-singing for Loga, which will follow.

That Chidzambwa’s Warriors also won a game, at the 2004 Nations Cup finals, and that Charles Mhlauri’s team, also did the same, two years later, will be buried, under an avalanche of the praises, directed towards Loga.

That, until the 2019 AFCON finals, there was no room for third-placed teams, to get a place in the Round of 16, will all be forgotten, in the delirium of Loga’s success story.

And, that there is real possibility the Croat would have won just two of his 19 games, in charge of the Warriors, will be dismissed as mere statistics.

Instead, Loga will be hailed as a strategist, who knows which big games to win – one against Botswana and one against Malawi.

Of course, there is a possibility the Croat might not survive, to lead the Warriors at the AFCON finals next January, should the team lose all their four 2022 World Cup qualifiers, this year.

They take on South Africa and Ethiopia, next month, and Ghana, in back-to-back matches, in October.

Failure to win any of those games could probably mean even, for the ZIFA leaders, who have backed their man to the hilt, this could be too much for them to defend.

And, a Croatian Miracle, might not happen, at the next AFCON finals, after all.

But, right now, the odds appear to favour Loga writing one of the craziest success stories, in the history of African football, in Cameroon next year.

Of course, thanks to a favourable draw, which makes it possible for him to book a place in the Round of 16, with just a win over Malawi.

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