Zimbabwe: Is Loga Working By Remote Control?

Senior Sports Reporter

ZDRAVKO LOGARUSIC has already spent a third of his time as Warriors coach locked up in his home country, Croatia.

Sixteen months into his job as the substantive coach of the senior national football team, Loga has spent five of those months, holed up in his homeland.

It's a strange set-up which appears to give an impression the gaffer is only working here on a part-time basis.

Or, to put it bluntly, he is executing his duties by remote control.

He now seems to only come here, when there are assignments, like the AFCON qualifiers, or when he took charge of the CHAN finals.

One would have expected Loga to spend most of his time going to South Africa, where the majority of his players are based, to check on them.

Given his status, as a national coach, he can be given special permission, by the South African Football Association, to even watch the league matches.

He could even get a chance to engage with the coaches, who spend countless hours working with his players, to discuss issues like the weaknesses, and strengths, of these Warriors.

With one of his stars, Khama Billiat, still struggling with long-term injury, one would have expected Loga to go to Johannesburg, to personally engage, with both the player, and the Kaizer Chiefs' technical staff.

In sharp contrast, his Serbian counterpart, Milutin Sredojevic, who was unveiled as the Chipolopolo coach, just a few weeks after Loga, has spent all his 15 months holed up in Zambia.

"I think when you compare with Micho, the difference is that the Zambian coach has always taken Africa as his home, since he arrived on the continent," an analyst, who chose not to be name, said.

"He feels very comfortable working in Africa, blending with the locals where he works, trying to find out what they really like and trying to get advice, from as many people as possible.

"Micho doesn't believe he knows it all and he puts everything into his work and that possibly explains why you have seen him staying in Zambia, all this time, because he is probably looking at a long-term relationship.

"He is desperate to make sure he makes things work and he attends a number of football activities, where he interacts with many people involved in the game.

"You will probably see the same thing when it comes to Hugo Broos in his time as Bafana Bafana coach."

Broos flew into South Africa on Monday night, to start familiarising himself, with the football landscape, in that country.

Bafana Bafana will take on the Warriors in their first 2022 World Cup qualifier in September.

"Hugo could have said, look, they no longer have a game in June, and stayed in Belgium, where it's getting into summer and getting warmer there, and would only come, maybe, in July or August," the analyst said.

"But, he said he wants to be where he is employed because there is a lot for him to learn about South African football.

"That is what professionalism is all about."

Broos told SABC Sport even the Black Stars, who are the group favourites, can be beaten.

"Every team can be beaten but it's not guaranteed that since I know Ghana we'll beat them again," he said.

"But, we have to be ready for that (game). But we'll see in September whether Bafana will be ready to beat Ghana. But it's possible, why not?

"Everything is about results, if tomorrow there are no results then you can say what you want (not make any excuses), it's finished.

We need to know that, it's a nice project and all that you'd want, but at the end it's all about results."

Loga remains holed up in Croattia.

He first returned to Europe in July, last year, telling our sister newspaper, Sunday Mail, inactivity had forced him to return back home.

"I live by myself in Zimbabwe, so when I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, I don't get bored but, now, when there are no games and we are not training and there is nothing much I am doing, I start to miss my family and to be with friends around me.

"Unlike most of you in Zimbabwe, you have friends and family to talk to. I had not made many friends by the time Covid-19 came, I came just a month before the coronavirus pandemic," said Loga.

Loga spent close to three months, in his homeland, only to return here on October 5.

After the Warriors were booted out of the CHAN finals, he flew straight to Croatia.

He was there for about five weeks.

The coach returned two weeks before the AFCON qualifiers resumed.

After the Warriors lost to Zambia, at the National Sports Stadium on March 29, the gaffer again left for Europe, a day after the match. He remains holed up in Croatia.

Despite the postponement of the World Cup qualifiers, ZIFA insist they will not arrange any friendly matches, which is likely to keep Loga in his homeland.

Zimbabwe were supposed to begin their campaign against South Africa and Ethiopia, next month, in Group G.

But, the opening matches will now be played in September.

The Warriors back-to-back clashes with Ghana have been pushed by a month to October.

The qualifying campaign will now end, in March next year, just a few months before the global football jamboree.

"As it stands, no friendly matches have been organised," said ZIFA spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela.

Last week, the association said they had shelved plans to play any friendly matches.

"ZIFA wishes to inform the nation that it has dropped any plans for the Warriors' friendly on the advice, and request of the technical team, which feels the friendly window dates are too close to the actual qualifiers and may pose challenges such as injuries to key players," the association said in a statement.

"The FIFA friendly window has been set a few days before the qualifiers.

"The association is now firmly laying the groundwork for football resumption and has quietly invested a lot towards grassroots, youth and women's football in 2021 and beyond, details of which shall be announced soon."

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