WARRIORS under-fire coach, Zdravko Logarusic, has denied he had a sensational bust-up with midfielders Denver Mukamba and Wellington Taderera at the CHAN finals in Cameroon.
The Croat has come under the microscope, after leading the Warriors to their worst campaign at the CHAN finals, with his poor side losing all their three matches at the tournament.
They finished as the lowest-ranked side, the only one without a point to their credit, having lost to hosts Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Mali.
Even Namibia, who failed to score in their three matches at the tourney, ended ranked better than Zimbabwe, with the Brave Warriors picking a point in their final match against Zambia.
The Warriors scored only once, at the CHAN finals, with Dynamos captain, Partson Jaure, getting that goal in the 1-3 defeat to Burkina Faso.
However, despite the team’s impotency, Loga ignored the services of two of his most creative midfielders, Mukamba and Taderera, throughout the tourney.
Reports then emerged that the duo was frozen from the side after they confronted the coach about why they were also not being considered for action ahead of the match against the Burkinabe.
The duo was again snubbed in the dead rubber final group game against Mali, which the Warriors again lost 0-1.
However, Loga, addressing the reporters for the first time, said he never had bust-up with any of his players, including the duo.
“There wasn’t any case, nor any incident like that, in the team. I am actually surprised,” he told The Herald.
“I did not have any problem with any player or (any member) of the technical team.
“I chose players which, in my opinion, can (show) good fundamentals to be in the future national team.”
The Croatian, who has taken charge of six Warriors games and managed only two draws and four defeats in the year he has been in charge, said he needed to give young blood in the dead-rubber against Mali.
“You saw in the last game, against Mali, I had four players who are under 23 years of age in every department, including goalkeeping, defence, midfield and strike-force,” he said.
“I also had a player from Division One, Powell Govera, and a debutante Shadreck Nyahwa.
“That’s how talented Zimbabwean players are and, given where we were coming from, I think we did well and, I repeat, there was no case between me and any players.”
Loga was also accused of snubbing players who questioned the aggressive way he deals with his men during their training sessions.
Some of those who felt uncomfortable, with both the tone of his language and choice of words, were Dynamos’ newboy, Juan Mutudza, and CAPS United winger, Phineas Bhamusi.
The two were said to have reacted strongly to the way they felt was an inappropriate manner in which Loga had addressed them.
They had been expected to make the squad to Cameroon but were axed by the Croatian.
However, the firebrand coach said all those reports were not true.
“We had no enough time to prepare for the CHAN finals and I picked players on merit not on any of those grounds,” he said.
“I didn’t have any problems with any players.”
There has been fresh debate, across the African continent, about the value of foreign coaches after only one of them, Serbian gaffer, Mulitin “Micho” Sredojevic, helped his team reach he quarter-finals at the CHAN finals.
Seven of the other countries, which reached the last eight of the tournament, were all under guidance of their local coaches.
They were Rwanda (Vincent Mashami), DRC (Florent Ibenge), Morocco (Houcine Ammouta), Mali (Nouhoum Diane), Cameroon (Martin Ndtoungou Mpile) and Guinea (Kanfoury Bangoura).
None of the foreign coaches guided their teams to the semi-finals which featured only coaches from the continent as Mali, Guinea, Morocco and Cameroon battled yesterday for a place in the final.
Four foreign coaches in Loga, Micho, Northern Irishman Johnathan McKinstry (Uganda) and another Serbian, Zoran Filipovic (Libya), were in contention for the title.
Loga became the first coach to fall by the wayside.
He feels the Warriors were always against it given domestic football did not take off last year.
“This Covid-19 thing is our number one enemy,” he told this newspaper ahead of the start of the tourney.
“It’s also because of Covid-19 that the Zimbabwe local season failed to open for the year 2020.
“We had to devise a way to counter that when we assembled early in November to allow ourselves some sufficient time to prepare.
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“We made some good progress, deliberately chopping and changing the squad for philosophy alignment.
“And, we had to give the players some break over Christmas holidays so that they would have some time with their families.
“But, well Covid-19 again wouldn’t give us time to prepare the final team for the tournament.
“We needed to work on almost all aspects of the game since our players never got the opportunity to play competitive football for the entire 2020.
“Football is scientific and I have always said it involves physical, mental, tactical and technical aspects.”
However, Loga was still positive his men, for all their challenges, would still give it a fight.
“What distinguishes Warriors from the rest of the pack is their ability to win fights even under difficult circumstances,” he said.
“We are fighters and we can win even under difficult situations.
“We cannot go to a tournament to add up numbers, no.”
However, after losing all their three matches, and scoring just one goal, the Warriors were, indeed, in Cameroon to just add up the numbers.