Rest Mutore, Sports Reporter
SOME local coaches believe Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic has a number of options in the absence of foreign-based stars ahead of Afcon qualifiers at the end of this month.
However, some believe it would be a disaster if the national team plays without stars in foreign leagues due to inactivity of the local league.
Zimbabwe play Botswana on March 25 away and Zambia at home four days later.
The national football team is in crisis after a number of key players in the coach’s provisional squad have been ruled out the crucial encounters.
Stars including Tino Kadewere, Marvelous Nakamba, Tendayi Darikwa, Jordan Zemura, Admiral Muskwe, Brendan Galloway and David Moyo have not been cleared to travel by their clubs owing to the new Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Some of the players who make the core of the team — Teenage Hadebe, Marshall Munetsi and Alec Mudimu — might also face the same predicament together with captain Knowledge Musona.
The camp also faces injury crisis with Khama Billiat and Prince Dube among others racing against time to be fit in two weeks’ time.
The development saw some football stakeholders calling for the postponement of the matches — which are decisive in as far as Zimbabwe’s participation at next year’s finals is concerned.
CONMEBOL shelved the 2022 World Cup qualifiers for their South American associations after most of their players in Europe have been barred from travelling.
In an interview with H-Metro Sport, some of the local coaches had mixed reaction over the current situation.
Ngezi Platinum coach Rodwell Dhlakama believes this is a global crisis and coaches have to look for available options.
Dhlakama argued most teams are being affected and it is unfortunate that Zimbabwe appear to be the only affected country.
“I think this is a global problem and it’s not affecting us alone. This means even our opponents (Botswana and Zambia) will be reduced to the same level as ours. It’s most likely they will also miss some of their foreign-based stars.
“I also think we have players who can do duty for the country in the absence of the Europe-based stars. The national team is a national asset and this is the time to exhaust all the available options,” said Dhlakama.
Whenever a national team squad is announced, there is always a section that cries foul over some of the names that could have been left out.
Last Jesi and Perfect Chikwende are among the players who stirred debate after they were left out in the initial squad and H-Metro exclusively reported that they have since been roped in. The same applies to Kelvin Moyo who was initially left out despite a positive start at his new club Nkana in Zambia and eventually given the captaincy.
Former FC Platinum midfield enforcer Farai Madhanhanga, who is now with South Africa’s TTM, could be another option for the Croatian in the absence of Nakamba and Munetsi. And Dhlakama believes this might be the time to consider such players.
“Like I said, there are other options out there. FC Platinum have been active in Africa and the coaches can get some of the players there and start preparations with them.
“What is needed is to address the crisis now and avoid last minute crisis management. Like I said we are talking of a national asset and in my perspective I think there are a number of options since this is also affecting our opponents,” he said.
CAPS United coach Darlington Dodo said it would be a disaster for the national team to play without foreign-based stars.
“I support the motion to have the matches postponed to a later date because this spells a disaster for Zimbabwe.
“Our league is not active and we are relying on this foreign-based guys. We are different with Botswana and Zambia. Zambia’s local league has been active for a while now and their foreign-based stars are not in the UK or France like ours.
“So I don’t think we will match them; it will be a lie to say our local stars will be ready to play in two weeks’ time. Look at what has happened at CHAN.
At the end of the day the blame comes to the coaches because fans only want results and will never look into other factors. So let’s be truthful, a disaster is looming or the coaches will have to dig deep and maybe get some options if CAF insists that the games should be played.
“This is not also the time to experiment, these games determine our future and everyone is looking forward to the games. It’s a difficult situation that needs to be solved because it’s disadvantaging others,” said Dodo.
Another local coach who decided to comment on anonymity said Zimbabwe has a lot of talent scattered around the globe.
“We have a lot of talent in Zimbabwe, there are a lot of players who can deliver out there. It’s a crisis but I think it can be managed.
“Look what is happening at Chelsea, the new coach is rotating the team and usually a player who is given the chance is out to prove his worth and consolidate his place. The same will happen if those guys are given the chance.
The thing is the coach called in star players and some fringe names. Now the star players are not coming, the coaches are doubting the fringe players yet they left out some good players out there.
“You can’t tell me Last Jesi, Kelvin Moyo, Ronald Pfumbidzai and Talent Chawapiwa are not among the best 38 in the country.
Why do we always have to wait for last minuet? Times like these teach us a lesson not to experiment with national teams.”
Triangle coach Taurai Mangwiro described it as a ‘tricky’ situation but the coaches should continue with their preparations.
Mangwiro said the situation needs to be addressed now.
“It’s not a secret that the country’s hopes were on the foreign-based stars but it seems they are not coming.
So it’s a tricky situation that needs to be addressed now. If the coaches are turning to locally-based stars, this is the time because most of them have not been active for over year.
“At least prepare them but to be truthful, they won’t be ready to play such high profile matches. Some might call for the postponement of the matches but it depends with the organisers and circumstances surrounding them.
“I would say it’s also a lesson to us and key football stakeholders in as far as local football is concerned. It would be a completely different story if the league was active,” said Mangwiro.