It’s now official – Warriors coach, Zdravko Logarusic, will spend the first year of his two-year contract without taking charge of one AFCON qualifier.
The 2021 Nations Cup finals, the tournament he was tasked to qualify for, will now be held in the month his deal expires in January 2022.
There is also a chance the Croatian gaffer will not guide the Warriors in any official match, in the first 12 months of his contract.
A red flag is still hanging on the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, set for either October or November.
His first official assignment might come exactly one year, after he signed his two-year contract, with the Warriors set to feature in the 2021 CHAN finals, in Cameroon.
Yesterday, the continent’s football leaders decided to postpone the 2021 AFCON finals by a year.
“The CAF Executive Committee held a meeting on Tuesday, 30 June 2020, via video-conference to discuss the future of competitions and other related issues following the Covid-19 pandemic,” the continent’s football controlling body said in a statement.
“The committee decided as follows;
Total Africa Cup of Nations Cameroon 2021 — after consultation with stakeholders, and taking into consideration the current global situation, the tournament has been rescheduled for January 2022. The date for the final tournament and the remaining matches of the qualifiers will be communicated in due course.
Total African Nations Championship (CHAN) Cameroon 2020 — the final tournament has been postponed till January 2021 in Cameroon.
“The CAF Executive Committee is satisfied with the Cameroonian authorities for their commitment towards the hosting of the two competitions. Cameroon is ready to host either competition and are within schedule.”
However, the chances of the CHAN finals being held, in January next year, do not look bright, despite the announcement by the CAF authorities.
When The Herald questioned in May whether Logarusic could complete his two-year contract “without taking charge of the team in any AFCON or World Cup qualifiers”, some criticised this newspaper for being sensational.
However, our fears have come to pass.
Under normal circumstances the Croat, who signed a two-year contract with ZIFA in January, would have already taken charge of the Warriors in, at least, seven matches.
That is, two back-to-back 2021 AFCON qualifiers against Algeria, at least three 2020 CHAN finals group games and two other Nations Cup qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia last month.
However, as international football continues to reel from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 outbreak, and fears grow as numbers start to peak in some countries, the space for football is being squeezed out.
Victor Montagliani, the Canadian heading a FIFA working group looking at how best world football could deal with the Covid-19 crisis, has already said he believes the September, October and November windows for national team matches could be scrapped this year.
“I personally think that might be a bit of a challenge, not so much because of just the health issues around the world, and the various degrees of preparedness, but also committing to international travel as soon as we come back,” Montagliani told the Associated Press in May.
“I think that domestic football is a priority. September is still in the books, but I would garner to say that I’m not sure it’s there on solid ground the way things are trending right now.”
This means, it’s now very likely Loga, who earns US$7 000 a month, will have pocketed US$84 000, in salaries, for just conducting a three-day Warriors’ training camp in March this year, for the CHAN finals, before it was called off.
The Croat has already revealed he is not comfortable with being paid while not executing his duties.
“I am not happy receiving the salaries which I have not worked for,” he told The Herald in May. “I want to be coaching football. I want to be watching football.
“I eat football and nothing else so I can’t say anything else.”
While domestic football has been restarted, in a number of countries, international football is a different ball game altogether as it requires borders being opened and players and referees, who might not feel comfortable travelling to certain red spots, coming from all over the world.
For example, President Abdelamadjid Tebboune of Algeria — where the Warriors were scheduled to travel for their next AFCON assignment — announced on Monday the country’s borders would remain closed “until Allah sets us free from this pandemic.”
This followed a sharp record spike of some 305 new infections, reported in just a 24-hour period, on Sunday, three weeks after the North African country eased lockdown restrictions.
The province of Setif, and other eastern parts of Algeria, have been severely affected with the country, as of Sunday, have recorded 13 571 cases of the virus and 905 related deaths.
By the time Loga’s contract expires, in January 2022, when the 2022 AFCON finals get underway, the coach would have picked a salary of US$168 000.
Ironically, it’s the same amount Belgian gaffer, Tom Saintfiet, eventually pocketed for coaching the Warriors for just a day, before his deportation, in 2010.
Saintfiet was accused of working without a work permit, amid a furious row between ZIFA and their Namibian counterparts over the way he had clandestinely signed a contract with local football authorities while, at the same time, having a pending deal with the Namibians.
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The Belgian coach’s contract with ZIFA stipulated he would get the following:
Net salary of US$8 000 per month (this excluded ALL proceeds received from participating in competitive matches outside Zimbabwe and the salary would be reviewed and adjusted upwards with 6 percent to cover inflation).
Transport — Isuzu KB truck with fuel allowance.
Bonus — US$2 000, if the team wins a game.
Bonus — US$1 000, if the team draws a game.
Further, the coach shall be paid back all reasonable travelling expenses incurred by him in the execution of his duties and obligation under this agreement.
The above stated figures shall be reviewed from time to time.
The employer (ZIFA) shall furnish the employee with three return tickets to Europe per year. Insurance, health care and rentals — the employer shall pay the employee the sum of US$12 000, after tax, per year for the same.
Rentals for the coach’s apartment in Germany at the start of the contract year.
Social security and pension fund
Health insurance policy held with the Belgian Government health insurer at the start of the contract”.