Zimbabwe have suffered a huge blow after their head coach Zdravko Logarusic was denied entry into South Africa ahead of the 2021 Cosafa Cup tournament.
With the tournament kicking off on Tuesday, the six-time champions arrived in South Africa on Monday but their coach Logarusic was denied entry at OR Tambo for lacking a visa.
A statement from Zimbabwe Football Association has confirmed the incident by stating: “The FA would like to inform the football fraternity and the nation that the Zimbabwe men's team, the Warriors left this Monday for Port Elizabeth, South Africa via Johannesburg for the upcoming Cosafa Cup.
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“The team arrived safely in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The Association would however like to inform the nation that the head coach Zdravko Logarusic has been denied entry upon arrival at Oliver Tambo International Airport on the basis of him not holding a valid visa for the host country, South Africa.
“This is despite the fact that we confirmed with visa and travel agencies in Zimbabwe prior to departure and we were assured that as long he possessed a valid Zimbabwean workers permit; he would be allowed entry in South Africa.
“We were then dismayed upon arrival when we were told by Immigration officials that that only service and diplomatic holders from Croatia were exempt from South African visa requirements.
“This had not been anticipated by the Association and the travel agent has availed a letter of apology after this debacle. The Agent has also agreed to reimburse expenses resulting from this anomaly.
“Unfortunately, it is very clear that valuable training time has been lost as a result of this gaffe.
"The Association is now saddled with ensuring that the coach gets a visa and proceeds to join the team in Port Elizabeth in the shortest time possible.”
The federation has further confirmed assistant coach Tonderai Ndiraya will take charge of the team as they await the clearance of Logarusic.
“Meanwhile assistant Tonderai Ndiraya will prepare the team in the absence of Coach Lloyd Chitembwe who was never penciled to travel to South Africa as a result of his non-authorisation to travel to South Africa,” the statement continued.
“We apologise to the nation for the inconvenience, however, the team remains in high spirits and ready to compete to everyone’s best abilities. We would like to assure the nation that the Association is making frantic efforts to remedy the situation.”
Zimbabwe will open their title defence against Malawi on July 9.