By GOODWILL ZUNIDZA, Harare
While the Warriors’ Cosafa Cup participation next month is largely another exercise in futility, for coach Zdravko Logarusic, it is his swim or sink moment.
With the jury still out on Logarusic’s credibility for the hot seat, a horrid performance in South Africa will almost certainly seal the Croat’s fate in Zimbabwe.
The 55-year-old mentor is thus under pressure to assemble a competitive, and not experimental, squad as the Warriors head to the regional tournament that runs from July 7-18 at the Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth.
Zimbabwe were drawn in Group C of the 12-team contest and will kick off against Mozambique at the Isaac Wolfson Stadium on July 8th.
They then face Namibia three days later before the final group match, a crunch tie against invited guests and major threat Senegal on 14th July.
Group A has hosts South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini and Botswana while Group B features defending champions Zambia, Malawi, Madagascar and Comoros.
So far indications point to the obvious fact that Logarusic will pick a side dominated by locally-based players.
How that will help the country beggars belief as none of them are likely to be fielded in the upcoming Fifa World Cup qualifiers which Zimbabwe must prepare for.
An upsurge in the number of Zimbabwean footballers playing abroad in recent times has left no further room for locally based players in the mainstream Warriors outfit.
And without the players that will play ball when the qualifiers commence in September, the Cosafa tournament will be a sheer waste of resources and opportunity by the Zimbabwe Football Association.
Yet Logarusic dare not disappoint in terms of the results he will produce in PE.
Already the coach’s tenure has proven to be the most indifferent in the history of Zimbabwe football.
On record the Croat boasts only a single victory in the eight matches he has presided over the Warriors, but that 1-0 away win in Botswana sent Zimbabwe through to next year’s African Cup of Nations finals, a feat never achieved by other foreign coaches before him.
The gutsy performance in Francistown erased the doubt generated by a disastrous showing at the January Chan finals in Cameroon where Logarusic’s boys lost all three games.
The expatriate is therefore seeking only his second win as the Zimbabwe coach at the Cosafa competition that might help in convincing local fans that he is the right man for the job.
Since it will be impossible to rope in the bulk of the country’s foreign-based players for the Cosafa Cup as it collides with Europe’s pre-season schedule, Zifa should have ideally registered a youth team for the tournament.
That move would have saved Logarusic the blushes as it could be held that he travelled with a developmental side.
Zifa have however left Logarusic with a long rope to select the players he wants and the Croat might just as well hang himself with it.
The coach is pressing on with the facade of wanting to assess fringe players for the senior national team assignments which is all but a hollow call as his World Cup squad will be 99% imported.
But crucially the team that he eventually chooses will not be allowed to holiday in the seaside resort of Port Elizabeth as it will only soil the reputation of their coach and perchance trigger his quick exit.