WARRIORS coach Zdravko Logarusic takes charge of his first Warriors game, in a friendly in Blantyre, against Malawi on Sunday as part of preparations for the 2021 Afcon and 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
Due to the unavailability of players that include Tino Kadewere, Prince Dube, Tendai Darikwa and Macauley Bonne owing to a variety of reasons, the Warriors technical team is believed to have roped in Zambia-based Takudzwa Chimwemwe and Jimmy Dzingai, FC Platinum’s Ralph Kawondera and United States-based defender Tendai Jirira.
This is a development that has raised questions on the kind of preparatory squads that the coach should consider having in the time of Covid-19, a pandemic that has ushered in a new way of doing things.
Following the poor show at the 2019 Afcon finals, Loga came in and promised results with his plans reliant largely on the Europe-based players. His preference for players in Europe under the Covid-19 era could be because they are active now while the local football league has not taken off this year.
With the new normal negatively affecting planned events and football in particular, we wonder on how big the preparatory squads for future Warriors assignments should be.
The coronavirus does not discriminate, and footballers, despite being incredibly fit athletes, are just as susceptible to getting the coronavirus as anyone else.
A number of individuals at clubs in foreign lands were diagnosed with Covid-19. This means that our foreign-based players will also tread with caution when it comes to representing their country as they could also get infected while on national team duty.
Friendly matches, by their very nature, are meant to assess players and work on possible combinations. However, the negative impact of Covid-19 could scuttle plans though we believe that all protocols should be followed to allay any fears that foreign clubs may have over the safety of their players.
Many countries will be engaged in friendly games this weekend and their success as regards access to their preferred players will vary. We believe in this environment of Covid-19, we need to prepare our local players since they will also be needed early next year for the Chan finals. We also need adequate cover for the senior national team in case of infections in the main team while there is also a need to keep all our players fit and ready for national duty at least by the start of the year next year. There is so much to be done within very little time, under constrained circumstances. We wish our national team the best in their preparations but also hope that football authorities come up with a roadmap that will ensure that we are ready for future tournaments without necessarily compromising players’ health.