COSAFA Cup: Zimbabwe coaches denied entry into South Africa due to visa irregularities

Zdravko Logarusic (right) has been denied entry le
Zdravko Logarusic (right) has been denied entry leaving his second assistant Tonderai Ndiraya to take charge
Lloyd Chitembwe remains blacklisted in South Afric
Lloyd Chitembwe remains blacklisted in South Africa 20 years since he last played in the country

Zimbabwe suffered the humiliation of their head coach Zdravko Logarusic being barred entry into South Africa for the COSAFA Cup after arriving without a visa at the OR Tambo Airport.

As per South African regulations, all Croatian citizens require visas – which must be applied for prior to arrival – in order to enter the country.

"The Association would like to inform the nation that 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," reads a statement from ZIFA.

"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 as he possessed a valid Zimbabwean work permit, he would be allowed entry in South Africa.

"We were then dismayed upon arrival when we were told by immigration officials that only service and diplomatic holders from Croatia were exempt from South African visa requirements.

"This was not 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,

ZIFA are now making efforts to get a visa for Logarusic ahead of The Warriors' first game against Mozambique on Wednesday afternoon. 

Also not travelling with the squad was assistant coach Lloyd Chitembwe – once on the books of Hellenic and Black Leopards – who is blacklisted from entering South Africa two decades since he last played in the country. 

The Warriors, who are the most successful nation in the COSAFA Cup with six titles, are already in Port Elizabeth and will have assistant coach Tonderai Ndiraya in charge along with goalkeeper Tembo Chuma.

COSAFA have revised the tournament schedule following the withdrawal of Comoros and Madagascar with the competition now due to have two groups instead of three as per the original plan.

Group A has Zambia, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini while Group B has Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi and guest nation Senegal with the winners and runners-up proceeding to the semi-finals.