Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
NEW Zimbabwe senior national football team coach Zdravko “Loga” Logarusic has proposed a 10-day training camp featuring local players ahead of the CHAN tournament which takes place in Cameroon in the next two months.
The draw is set for this evening at Palais Polyvalent des Sports de Yaoundé in the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde, at 7pm (8pm Zimbabwean time).
Zimbabwe, who are one of the countries that made it to the finals of this year’s tournament, go into the hat along with 15 other finalists from the continent.
Already Loga knows he has to navigate a difficult terrain in his preparations for the tournament, which is reserved exclusively for the players plying their trade in the domestic leagues.
Unfortunately for the new Warriors coach, he may not get the opportunity to watch his players in action as the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League is currently off-season.
The CHAN tournament, which runs from April 4-25, will come hot on the heels of the Warriors’ back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Algeria scheduled to take place between March 23 and 31. And tonight, Loga will be following with keen interest as the Warriors go into the hat for the CHAN 2020 tournament. They join hosts Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Namibia and debutants Togo in the draw.
The other teams involved are defending champions Morocco, DR Congo, Congo, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger and Mali.
“Before we go to Algeria in March we have to prepare a complete team for CHAN and we have problems,” said Loga.
“The first problem is that there is no competitive league football taking place locally at the moment. Secondly, we don’t know what kind of form these players have.
“Because it’s the beginning of the season, not many players will be in top form at the beginning of the season. They hit top form maybe six to eight weeks later.
“Also we will be short of time to prepare but we will try to talk to the clubs so that maybe from March 8 to 18 to put players together (for) 10 days to play three friendly games and then have training together to try to feel as a team.
“But we will not give every player 90 minutes but probably 40 minutes. Let’s try in 10 days to create from the local players a competitive team that can go out there and get results.
“For example, when I went to Sudan I had two months’ preparation. I came in December, was there January and February we started and in two months you can change the mentality of the players, you can change their way of thinking. We will try to do the job in 10 days and I am sure we will do the job,” said Loga.
Zimbabwe are going to the CHAN finals for the fifth time. They have the most appearances at the finals of the tournament along with Uganda. But the Warriors’ best performance was a fourth place finish in South Africa in 2014.
The Zimbabweans only missed the previous edition held in Morocco after they were stunned by Namibia in a two-legged qualifier.
The tie had ended in a 1-1 stalemate and had to be settled via a penalty shoot-out at the National Sports Stadium.
But after thrashing minnows Mauritius 7-1 and then overcoming a plucky Lesotho 3-1 during the 2020 CHAN qualifiers, the Warriors can still fancy their quality and chances of success.
Loga will be hoping for a positive feedback from the clubs over his camping proposal as the local sides will be busy putting final touches to their preparations for the 2020 season expected to start next month. The PSL are yet to release the fixtures and the dates.
CAF have since upped their preparations for the CHAN tournament. Their inspection teams are in Cameroon where they have been looking at the facilities since last week.
The two committees visited sports infrastructures, hotels, training grounds and many others in Yaounde, Douala, Bafoussam, Buea and Limbe.
The president of the organising committee, Professor Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, reassured Cameroonians that the country will host the tournament.
Qualified teams for Cameroon 2020
Cameroon (hosts), Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Namibia, Togo (debut), Morocco, Zimbabwe, DR Congo, Congo, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger, Mali.