Pagels' great challenge

HARARE - New Zimbabwe football coach Klaus-Dieter Pagels returned to the country last night ahead of the start of his Warriors reign, heralding a new era in local football.

Pagels had flown back to his native Germany last month for his annual leave during the just-ended festive season period.

It is no doubt that the first port of call for the German will be assembling a new team that will go into battle against Egypt when the 2014 World Cup qualification resumes in March.

The Warriors travel to Cairo for a date with the Pharaohs on March 22 in a match they desperately need a win to resurrect their hopes of qualifying for Brazil 2014.

Zimbabwe only has one point from two matches while the North Africans sit on the summit of Group G with a 100 percent record.

To make matters worse, Pagels has to reconstruct a badly battered Warriors team that is still reeling from the effects of the Asiagate match-fixing scandal and the failure to qualify for the upcoming 2013 African Nations Cup.

It is going to be a tough task considering that a number of players, who would normally be in the Warriors squad, were part of the squad that was disbanded en masse in October following the 2013 Afcon disappointment.

The German has to make some tough decisions in the coming months regarding the personnel he would like to employ during his tenure.

When he was appointed last November, Pagels hinted that his team needs to have an identity and they would be known for playing a passing game.

Pagels’ desire to see his team play a possession-based game is the reason why he has chosen Lloyd Mutasa as one of his assistants.

There is no doubt that Zimbabwe has the talent to come up with a squad that can challenge Egypt and Guinea in Group G for World Cup qualification.

It is only a matter of identifying that talent and making sure players who deserve to wear the green and gold get the due recognition.

Although the Pharaohs are sitting pretty in Group G with six points out of six, they are at a vulnerable state with the well documented problems currently gripping Egyptian football.

The North African country’s domestic league has just been given a green light to resume after an 11-month break following the Port Said violence that left 74 people dead last February.

Egypt’s vulnerability was highlighted by their failure to qualify for the 2013 Afcon after they were knocked out by the Central African Republic (Car) in the first qualifying round.

Pagels must be looking at the Car performance against Egypt and thinking to himself that Zimbabwe can be able to cause a similar upset.

Another worrying factor for the 63-year-old is Zifa’s perennial cash problems.

Zifa is currently saddled by a ballooning debt that has risen over $4 million and the association has hinted on withdrawing from the World Cup qualifiers.

Government officials have however, insisted that they will help the Warriors with funds to fulfil all their fixtures in Group G.

At the moment, the Pharaohs are in Dubai where they are expected to play two friendly internationals against the Afcon-bound Ivory Coast and Ghana.

In February, the North Africans are also scheduled to travel to Madrid to take on Chile as they fine-tune ahead of their clash with the Warriors.

This means by the time Bob Bradley’s side takes on the Warriors in March, they would have had sufficient preparation time.

Zifa is yet to find opponents for the Warriors to play against between now and the time they travel to Cairo.

With limited resources, Pagels has to get the best out of the team he is going to select to duty for the nation.

Obviously, all these questions were ringing in his head during his holiday and by the time he arrived last night, perhaps he might have found a solution.




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