Addressing a Press conference yesterday ahead of Zimbabwe’s final Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Zambia at the National Sports Stadium tonight, the Croat said he has shut the door on players who have in the past refused to turn up for national duty.
He didn’t mention any names, but sources confided to NewsDay that Lunga, who had become a regular and an integral part in the current Warriors team, was one of the black-
The left-back did not turn up for last week’s penultimate Afcon match against Botswana after telling the Warriors technical team that he was injured.
“What I am looking for in a player is character, commitment and then talent. If a player thinks that he can pick and choose games that he wants to play, no, he will not. We have players like Knowledge Musona and Victor Kamhuka, who travelled thousands of miles to come for national duty, but some players in South Africa refused to come because they don’t have the country at heart. Some players who are in Europe ignored our calls when we needed them, but now that we have qualified, they are calling me. I have blocked them.”
“I don’t do like other coaches who just look at how good a player is. For me, I consider a player’s character first, the personality, that is, if you love your country and then the rest. If you don’t love your country why should I select you?”
Investigations by NewsDay Sport revealed that Lunga on March 19 wrote to the Warriors technical team excusing himself from the two matches against Botswana and Zambia, claiming that he was injured and needed at least two weeks to recover. But just a day later, he played a full match for his South African league side Golden Arrows against Cape Town City.
“The coach was really angered by it and he vowed that Devine will never play for the Warriors as long as he is the coach,” a source said.
Logarusic was forced to call-up Onismor Bhasera as a last-minute replacement with the veteran defender only joining up with the team in South Africa on their way to Botswana.
Bhasera, who paid for his trip, went on to play the full match which Zimbabwe won to clinch their ticket to the Afcon finals.
“That is the commitment that I am looking for,” Logarusic said.
“Bhasera had a problem with a ticket that we had bought for him and he said don’t worry let me buy another ticket for myself.”
The source added that Macauley Bourne, who has also previously turned down the opportunity to play for the national team, has also been banished.
Meanwhile, Logarusic said he will make wholesale changes to the squad that will face Zambia tonight. The match kicks off at 9pm.
With his team already qualified, Loga said he doesn’t want to risk his players to accumulate yellow cards that will see them miss the opening match of the Afcon tournament.
Players who are a yellow card away from suspension include Musona, who is also carrying an injury, Teenage Hadebe, Alec Mudimu, Terrence Dzvukamanja, Thabani Kamusoko and Khama Billiat who is not in the squad anyway because of an injury.