Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
ZIFA took a massive gamble yesterday when they appointed nomadic Croatian gaffer, Zdravko Lugarisic, as the substantive coach of the Warriors on a two-year deal.
The 54-year-old gaffer, who has coached on the continent in the last 11 years, was an outsider in the race for the big job.
Although the Croat took Sudan to the semi-finals of the last CHAN finals, he was kicked out of his job last year after a loss to South Africa.
He has never handled a team at either the Nations Cup or the World Cup finals.
Lugarisic has largely worked in Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania, taking charge of clubs like Ashanti Gold, Gor Mahia, King Faisal Babes, Simba SC, AFC Leopards and Asante Kotoko.
He also guided Interclube of Angola.
Lugarisic’s cabinet does not have many trophies, for his adventures across Africa, and his stay on the continent has largely been littered with some nasty divorces.
He sparked global controversy last year when he claimed Fifa altered his choice for the Footballer of the Year.
Yesterday, he took to Twitter to say he was ready for the challenge.
“Happy for this new challenge,’’ he thundered. “Let’s go Warriors!’’
The Croat changed his Twitter background picture to include a Zimbabwean flag but was quickly warned by the team’s fans of the challenges that lie in his path.
“Hey dude, we want results,’’ said one of the fans, with the coach replying, “expect them soon.’’
Another Warriors fan also issued a warning to him.
“Be warned these streets can be very rough. If you win us matches we will make you shine or even recommend you for the Man Utd job but, if you mess up, then you will wish you never took the job,’’ said the fan.
Chicken Inn coach, Joey Antipas, who was in interim charge of the national senior team for four months until December 31, is the first assistant with Lloyd Chitembwe and Tonderai Ndiraya also making the bench.
Former Zimbabwe Saints goalkeeper, Pernell McKop, will be in charge of the goalkeepers.
“I did have a conversation with a middle man who said that they (Zifa) were discussing it and he’d let me know the outcome and it seems as though they’ve made their decision,’’ said McKop.
“I am honoured to be given this opportunity. I have just gotten the exciting news from a middleman.’’
Felton Kamambo believes Logarusic can add value to the Warriors.
“We definitely expect him to bring excitement into our football. We want the good old days to come,’’ the Zifa boss said.
“I have been in football for a long time now and there was a time when football was doing the talking.
“If you ask me, who was the Zifa president then, I don’t know and, maybe, you also don’t know. It is because the coach was bringing some excitement into the game.
“It is that excitement, that touch, that passion, that flair which we expect the new coach to bring.
“We expect him to qualify us to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon. He should also have a plan for us to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“We have always been saying that it is time for football to do the talking. I have stated it repeatedly and it was also in my manifesto when I was campaigning for the Zifa presidency in 2018.
“The time has now come for us to let the game attract everyone to the stadium.”
Logarusic is a UEFA Pro Licence holder and first landed in Africa when he was appointed King Faisal Babes’ coach in Ghana.