NEWLY-APPOINTED Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic is expected in Zimbabwe this week from his base in Croatia after he was granted his work permit on Monday, the Daily News can report.
Logarusic was handed a two-year contract last month with the mandate to take the Warriors to the 2022 Qatar World Cup and the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournaments after replacing Sunday Chidzambwa, who resigned last July.
Since his appointment, the 54-year-old had been in his native Croatia while waiting for the processing of the requisite papers to allow him to work in Zimbabwe.
However, the 54-year-old will have to convince Zimbabweans that he is up to the task following his recent comments to a Ghanaian publication.
In the interview which has now created a storm here, Logarusic appeared to write off the Warriors’ chances of making it to the 2022 Qatar World Cup finals.
Zimbabwe was placed in a tough Group G together with Ghana, South Africa and Ethiopia for the qualifiers set to start in October this year.
Logarusic tipped the Black Stars to win the group while the Warriors could only come in second place and would not reach the final qualifying round.
This has not gone down well with Warriors fans and pundits alike, who are now accusing the Croat of throwing in the towel before even the fight has started.
In his defence, the coach has insisted that he was quoted out of context and that he was employing mind games in order not to get his new players ahead of themselves.
Despite the explanation, Logarusic is likely to face some tough questions at his unveiling which is likely to take place before the end of the week.
Meanwhile, Zifa has employed a cautious approach in everything to do with Logarusic considering the Tom Saintfiet saga from November 2010.
The previous Zifa board led by Cuthbert Dube sneaked the Belgian into Zimbabwe to coach the team without a work permit and it turned into a soap opera.
Saintfiet ended up fleeing Zimbabwe while immigration officials were hot on his trail in an embarrassing episode for the football association.
Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela was not giving away much regarding the new coach’s arrival to start work.
“His work permit is work in progress. All the necessary submissions were done and it will be collected anytime from now.
“The public will be advised accordingly on his arrival,” Gwesela told the Daily News.
However, a separate inquiry with Logarusic revealed that his arrival was now imminent.
“I will be there this week. The office told me everything was now OK. See you soon,” Logarusic told the Daily News yesterday.
Logarusic, who will be assisted by Joey Antipas, Lloyd Chitembwe and Tonderai Ndiraya, will need to start working on preparations for the Warriors’ 2021 Afcon back-to-back Group H qualifiers against Algeria in March.
Zimbabwe are away to the Desert Foxes, who are the reigning African champions, in Blida on March 23 before the reverse fixture in Bulawayo on March 31.
After those two matches, Logarusic’s attention will then switch to the forthcoming 2020 Chan finals to be held in Cameroon in April.
The Croat will need to come up with a squad for the tournament solely-reserved for locally-based players.
After the Chan finals, the Warriors will then turn to their Group H qualifiers with matches against Botswana and Zambia scheduled for June and September respectively.
After that, the 2022 Qatar world Cup qualifiers will then commence with Zimbabwe faced with a tall order.
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