Tadious Manyepo, Harare Bureau
Zifa are negotiating for preparatory friendlies with Rwanda and Kenya before the Warriors plunge into the Chan football finals in Cameroon next month.
The biannual tournament, reserved for players plying their trade in their respective local leagues runs between January 16 and February 7.
It was moved from April this year to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 2020 local Premiership season was also wiped away by the pandemic, leaving Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic having to go for an unorthodox way of selecting his squad for the fiesta as he conducted marathon friendly matches against top-flight teams, in the process picking impressive players.
And Zifa are working flat out to give Loga some sparring partners in the form of teams who are also going to be part of the Chan cast.
Loga’s 27-member squad broke camp on Sunday for the Christmas Holidays and only 23 players will be called back for resumption of training on December 28.
National teams’ general manager, Wellington Mpandare, yesterday confirmed they were pushing for friendlies early next month.
“We have been in camp with the national team while at the same time we have been negotiating for friendlies with different countries,” said Mpandare.
“We have broken camp for the Christmas Holidays and when we return on the night of December 27 for resumption of camp the day after, the team would have been trimmed to 23.
“We are required to forward the names of the players to Caf by December 30 so the 23 who will be called back to camp are likely going to be the ones going to Chan.
“Of course there have been injury worries with King (Nadolo), Leeroy (Mavhunga) and Peter (Muduwa) spending some days on the treatment table but they are now fine and will be in the team if they are called back by the coach.”
Mpandare said if the team manages to secure the friendly matches as is most likely, the team will leave the country on January 4.
Logarusic said he will be happy if his team manages to play at least one friendly game before the tournament.
The Croat tactician has remained confident although he knows he has to move mountains if his team is to perform decently given where they are coming from.
“I have seen more than 40 players who have the potential to play for the national team but it’s very hard to select players who haven’t played football for nine, 10 months,” said Logarusic.
“Anyway we will try our best to see how things go. We have tried our best as the technical team to give most players in the top-flight a chance to prove themselves.
“We have broken camp right now and we will regroup on December 28. We will have 23 players including three goalkeepers who we will start to work with.
“We will certainly try our best. We need to improve in every area of the game and hopefully by the time we leave for Chan we will be in a better shape as a team.
“The players haven’t played football for eight, nine months and for sure every aspect of their game needs to be improved.
“It’s like what we have done in the past weeks has been pre-season and it’s difficult to judge which player can do well.
“Zimbabwe is full of talent and I think we will have a team to start working with. The players are breaking camp and I have urged them to try and be disciplined over this short period.”