Harare – Drawn to face against each other in the 2021 COSAFA group of death, Brave Warriors coach Bobby Samaria and his Zimbabwe counterpart Zdravko Logarusic have a headache.
Having already named their squads for the competition, the two suddenly found all conatc sports banned in their respective countries as authorities try to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
So how do they prepare for the regional football tourney which runs from July 7 to 18 at Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa?
Samaria, who named a 35-man provisional squad minus the injured on-song Mamelodi Sundowns striker Peter Shalulile, says he is taking his squad to South Africa this week as contact sports are not banned in that country.
“By the weekend or so depending on flight availability, we should be gone (to South Africa) to start with training. We will be facing great competition at (the) COSAFA Cup and we have to prepare thoroughly,” he said.
The 20th edition of the regional tournament doesn’t only offer Samaria with a chance to claim bragging rights in Southern Africa, but Ii will also be a huge chance for him to get a feel of what to expect in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against continental giants Senegal, Togo and Congo (Brazzaville) come September.
Senegal are this year’s COSAFA guests and they have been placed in the same group as Namibia and Zimbabwe together with Mozambique.
“The association confirmed our participation for us to go and compete and Senegal expressed interest because we face them in world cup qualifiers later this year and so we need to be prepared as well. Zimbabwe is always strong and Mozambique have become our arch rivals, so it will be a good competition for us,” Samaria said.
While Namibia is dealing with the contact sport ban by going to South Africa, the Zimbabwe Football Association has applied for a special waiver from the government so that Logarusic is able to start training his men.
He has named a squad of locally-based players who have until recently been playing in a domestic cup competition, now suspended due to increasing COVID-19 cases.Logarusic said: “Yes, it is a dilemma indeed but we hope that we will be given a special permission to start training.”