3 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Pagels Defends Player Selection

Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/Backpagepix
Essam Al Hadari and Mohamed Zidan of Egypt celebrate their team's victory in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

WARRIORS' coach Klaus-Dieter Pagels reckons European-based Zimbabwean midfielders Ovidy Karuru and Bradley Pritchard do not fit into his "tiki-taka" style of football.

Apart from former Warriors captain and goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini, Karuru and Pritchard are notable players missing from the Warriors squad for Wednesday's international friendly match against Botswana at Rufaro Stadium.

Pagels intends to introduce the short-passing game which in modern day football has been popularised and perfected by Spanish football giants Barcelona.

Tiki-taka involves quick-one-touch passing, high technique, maintaining possession and zonal play.

"I selected the players according to my plan and vision on how I would want them to play. Yes, Karuru and Pritchard play in Europe but they are not in my plans. Sometimes it does not matter where one plays," said Pagels.

"I called those who can play one-touch football, short passes with a lot of movement. Let us not look at a few players because all those I left out do not fit in my style of play."

English Championship side Charlton Athletic midfielder Pritchard has drawn interest from a number of Premiership clubs.

However, it is the tried and tested Karuru, who has proved before with his silky passing game, that he can fit well into Pagels' philosophy.

Karuru who has been an integral part of a golden generation that includes Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat, Abass Amidu and Lincoln Zvasiya was also a victim of omission by former Warriors' coach Rahman Gumbo amid reports that he had a frosty relationship with the gaffer.

The Oud-Heverlee Leuven player however, sounded unperturbed by the snub.

"Maybe ndapera (I am now a spent force)," said Karuru.

"It is not the first time to be left out so I am now used to it. I am not worried that I have not been called up. Age is on my side, there is still plenty of time and I will bounce back one day. Let us leave those selected to do their job. Whether I am there or not, I don't care, as long as the team wins and I will be happy that my country has won," Karuru said.

Mystery surrounded Karuru's omission last year by Gumbo and drew wide condemnation from football fans.

"It is also good for national team coaches to use new players. I am actually happy for those selected. They just need to show what they are capable of doing, to show they can do the job for the nation. It is hightime we made our fans happy because it has been long since we qualified for a major tournament. 2006 is a very long time. It is good that we are already preparing for 2015 and this time we will make it," said Karuru.

The Warriors are expected to start trooping into camp today for the Botswana friendly which is in preparation for March's World Cup qualifier against Egypt, in Cairo.

Egypt have so far played international friendlies against Georgia, Ghana and Ivory Coast between November last year and January.

The Pharaohs who are mostly composed of promoted youth players engage Chile on Wednesday.

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