Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor—
ZIFA partner Wicknell Chivayo has thrown his weight behind Callisto Pasuwa and says the brand new vehicle he acquired for the Warriors coach should be delivered to the gaffer, as promised, despite the national team’s failed campaign at the 2016 African Nations Championship finals in Rwanda. Speculation has been rife that Pasuwa could be used as the sacrificial lamb after the Warriors crashed out of the 2016 CHAN finals in the first round, being blown away after only two group games in Rwanda, following back-to-back losses to Zambia and Mali.
With Pasuwa still to ink a contract with ZIFA, social media has been exploding with reports that the coach could be replaced, and that could mean he will not be handed the 2016 Toyota D4D new shape 3-litre V8 double cab which Chivayo acquired for him last month. Some critics have even turned to mocking Pasuwa that he will suffer the indignity of being axed without even getting the chance to use a vehicle that was acquired for him just before he left on the 2016 CHAN tour of duty with the Warriors.
However, yesterday Chivayo cleared the air and said it was important that ZIFA deliver on their promise to the coach, irrespective of the events in Rwanda, given that the deal to get him the vehicle was never tied to what would happen at the 2016 CHAN finals.
The Harare businessman has also been paying off the $180 000 that ZIFA owed Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet, which helped avert sanctions from FIFA who had threatened to throw Zimbabwe out of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, should the debt not be dissolved.
So far, $150 000 of that debt has been paid, and the remainder is set to be paid soon, and Chivayo said it was important that he throws the same support to Pasuwa to improve the working environment for the coach, which he hopes will also translate into better results for the Warriors.
Such is Chivayo’s support for Pasuwa that he even revealed yesterday that, in the highly unlikely event that the relationship between ZIFA and the coach breaks down, and a new coach was installed who would use the vehicle he acquired, he would still buy another car for the former Dynamos gaffer.
“I watched all the three matches that our national team played in Rwanda and I have to say that I was very impressed with the way they performed even though they didn’t manage to grab one of the two tickets for the quarter-finals of the tournament,” said Chivayo.
“We lost two matches and that has generated a lot of debate, especially among the fans and critics who feel that the coach failed badly with some even questioning whether he should remain in charge of the team, something that can only be decided, of course, by the people at ZIFA.
“But I am someone who believes in investing for long-term benefits and I don’t think we should be a country that chops and changes coaches simply because we did not do well at tournaments because, by doing that, we won’t get the rewards that come with continuity and we need to be a patient nation that gives its coaches a lot of time so that they implement their programmes.
“We also need to support them with resources and that is why I felt that getting a vehicle for our national coach could make a difference in the way that he executes his duties and, in the long run, we all benefit — as a nation — with good results coming from our national team games.
“There has been a lot of talk that because we didn’t go as far as people might have wanted in Rwanda, it therefore means that Pasuwa won’t get the vehicle that we acquired for him and let me make it clear that we remain committed to our promise to him and don’t see why that car should not be delivered to him.
“I am very supportive of Pasuwa because I feel that he has done very well, working under difficult circumstances, and we should be looking at how we can empower him so that he becomes a better coach and we also need to ensure that he works in an environment where it becomes easy for one to produce results, where all the focus for him will be on delivering the results and working for this great nation.
“I hear that ZIFA are saying that they are also backing him, and that is good, and what is important is that they deliver the car to Pasuwa as promised, without any delays, so that he also feels that we appreciate what he is doing for our nation.
“It’s unfortunate that the ZIFA president (Philip Chiyangwa) is away on business this week and I hope that, once he returns home, anytime next week, the handover of the vehicle to the coach should be done so that Pasuwa feels that he has our backing and he can start concentrating on planning on his next assignment against Swaziland in the AFCON qualifiers next month.”
Chivayo said this wasn’t the time for a witch-hunt but for all patriotic Zimbabweans to come together and find how the nation can do well in the 2017 Nations Cup qualifiers, a tournament that has a bigger profile than CHAN.
“As a patriotic Zimbabwean, I have to say that nothing excites me more than seeing our great nation doing well and football is very important to the people of this country and it’s important that we should battle, all the time, to be successful,” said Chivayo.
“But it doesn’t mean that, on the occasions that we fail, we should destroy one another and blaming everything on the coach isn’t the right way of evaluating our performance because a lot of factors come into play when our team plunges into battles on the field.
“I am driven by patriotism and I feel that Pasuwa has also demonstrated a lot of patriotism by continuing to work as our national team coach, under very difficult conditions where he wasn’t being paid, for some time, and where he didn’t get the necessary tools that a coach in such a big job should be given.
“When I came in as the ZIFA partner, it’s one thing that I noted that we should support our national coach so that he gets the necessary tools to deliver the results that we want and, right now, we should all be supporting him, rather than condemning him, because he has started very well in the AFCON qualifiers and that’s a tournament we have been trying to qualify for the finals since 2006 and we have a very good chance this time around.
“I’m passionate about our football, that is why I came in to help, and I can assure the boys that I will be there to support them when they play Swaziland and right now, what is important for all patriotic Zimbabweans, is for us to look forward, because that is what we can change, rather than look backwards.
“What I can tell you is that, for whatever reason, should ZIFA decide that they are not giving Pasuwa that vehicle, I will go ahead and get another car for him because I feel that he has done a lot for this country, without getting the appreciation and help that someone in his position deserves.”