Rest Mutore, Sports Reporter
WARRIORS coach Zdravko Logarusic is hesitant on playing friendly matches in preparation for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers set to start in June.
Zimbabwe will start their Group G campaign with a date against South Africa between June 5 and 8. And as part of preparations, there are considerations to line up friendly matches – something the Croat tactician does not fancy.
Loga fears some of his stars might pick up injuries especially given the time frame between the friendlies and the competitive matches.
Speaking to H-Metro, Warriors manager Wellington Mpandare said friendly matches are unlikely – unless the coach changes his mind.
“. . . in terms of friendlies as part of preparations, it’s part of the board (Zifa) and they promised to organise some for us.
“It’s work in progress. However, the coach has indicated the dangers of playing friendly matches days before competitive matches.
He prefers to play friendly matches on international breaks that have no top games like World Cup qualifiers.
“His argument is that some of the players might get injured a day or two days before the big match and that makes the whole situation complicated. I don’t know, maybe he will change his perception but that is his position at the moment and that is what he believes,” said Mpandare.
Mpandare said they shifted their focus to the World Cup qualifiers just after their win in Botswana.
He said the narrative of their discussion (with the technical team) changed just after the final whistle in the Warriors’ 1-0 win over Botswana was blown.
“By the time we qualified in Botswana, the focus quickly shifted to the World Cup qualifiers. We don’t have time to rest because the desire is to produce positive results for the nation.
“So the narrative changed just after qualifying for Afcon. We have started engagements already and I am working closely with the coach and his assistants on their recommendations, depending on who is willing to come.
“The coach has made it clear that everyone eligible to play for Zimbabwe will be given the chance and we will also not stop our efforts to engage some of the players who we believe will add value to the team,” said Mpandare.
The Warriors manager said it is exciting that they start the campaign with their rivals – in what he described as a ‘Limpopo derby’.
“It is good that we are starting the campaign with a powerful fixture. As you know, the players don’t need any motivation when playing against South Africa.
“They know what it means to win against your rivals. They know what it means to win against South Africa. The issue of bragging rights, most of the guys play in South Africa and some have passed through the country,” he said.
Zimbabwe will have a busy year as they are also set to travel to Ethiopia between June 11 and 14.
They have another away fixture to Ghana, who complete Group G, the week of September 1 and 4 before hosting the same opponents between September 5 and 7.
Zimbabwe will then travel to South Africa between October 6 and 9 before completing the campaign against Ethiopia at home between October 10 and 12.
The winners of the 10 groups will be drawn into playoffs, in a home and away format. The five winners will represent Africa at the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals to be hosted by Qatar.