Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
WARRIORS coach, Zdravko Logarusic is concerned about a lack of game time for crucial players at their respective clubs ahead of back to back fixtures against Algeria.
The Warriors square off with the Desert Foxes in Algiers on Thursday before the two teams collide again at the National Sports Stadium next Monday.
Alec Mudimu who plays for Sheriff Tiraspol in Moldova, his central defence partner Teenage Hadebe who is on the books of Yeni Malatyaspor in Turkey as well as defensive midfielder Marvelous Nakamba of Aston Villa are seeing little action at their respective clubs, which is a concern. While most Zimbabweans have little interest in the Turkey and Moldova leagues, the English Premiership where Nakamba plays has a massive following in the country. Those who watched Villa thump Arsenal on Sunday would have noted that Zimbabwe’s star midfielder was on the bench throughout the 90 minutes with Brazilian Douglas Costa chosen ahead of him.
Nakamba has only made two appearances as a substitute for Aston Villa out of seven league matches they have played so far this season. One of two occasions he took to the field in a league fixture for the Claret and Blue was in Villa’s 7-2 victory over defending champions Liverpool last month.
Logarusic is a concerned man seeing how critical Hadebe, Nakamba and Mudimu are in Zimbabwe’s defensive play ahead of a clash against an Algerian side whose attack has the likes of Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City, Yacine Brahimi formerly with Porto as well as their second highest all time goal scorer, Islam Slimani who is on the books of English side Leicester City but is on loan at French club Monaco.
“Nakamba is not playing so are Hadebe and Mudimu, that means three, the spine of the team, two central defenders and defensive midfielder, are not playing. Alec has not played a game in a month and a half. I am worried about their match fitness, it’s a problem,’’ Logarusic said.
What makes it more difficult for the Warriors coach is there is no activity in the country’s domestic league, which means he cannot look for solutions locally and has to call up those whose leagues are active.
On the brilliant form shown by Prince Dube in the Vodacom Tanzania Mainland Premier League where he has scored six league goals for Azam, the Croatian is a bit skeptical because of the level of competition in the East African country’s league. Seeing that Algeria have players playing in some of the top leagues in the world, it means Dube has to up his game.
“Yes Prince is scoring but this is Tanzania league we are talking about, he is not going to face some small boys, he is going to play against top defenders playing in Europe. It’s good Prince is scoring, it’s fantastic, can he jump three levels up? He definitely gives us options, he can change the game, he can come inside, he is a good individual player,’’ said Logarusic.
The Warriors coach has seen four of the players he had called up not available for various reasons. Marshal Munetsi, Butholezwe Ncube, Tatenda Mukuruva and Tendai Jirira are the players who pulled out of the squad. Former Dynamos defender, Victor Kamhuka has been called up for the trip to Algeria.
Yesterday, the Warriors had a feel of the turf at the National Sports Stadium for an hour.
Goalkeepers: Elvis Chipezeze, Talbert Shumba
Defenders: Jimmy Dzingai, Alec Mudimu, Jordan Zemura, Teenage Hadebe, Divine Lunga, Tendayi Darikwa, Adam Chicksen, Victor Kamhuka
Midfielders: Ovidy Karuru, Tafadzwa Rusike, Kudakwashe Mahachi, Knowledge Musona, Terrence Dzvukamanja, King Nadolo, Marvelous Nakamba, Khama Billiat
Strikers: Tinotenda Kadewere, David Moyo, Prince Dube