THE recommendation by the zifa High Performance Committee for the Association to part ways with Warriors coach Callisto Pasuwa, in the wake of our failed 2017 Nations Cup finals’ adventure, is set to trigger a lot of debate in a country still battling to nurse the wounds inflicted by their team’s failure in Gabon. There are some who will sharply criticise the committee, which is headed by zifa vice-president Omega Sibanda, and has a number of prominent coaches, including the legendary Sunday Chidzambwa, Rahman Gumbo and Moses Chunga in its ranks, as having reacted wrongly to the events in Gabon.
They will accuse this committee of pursuing an agenda against Pasuwa, from the word go, and there will certainly be accusations that some of its members have been angling for the coach’s job, especially now when it’s such a high-paying job which saw Pasuwa earn a staggering $56 000 from that doomed one-week adventure in Gabon.
Then, there are others who will say it’s the right thing to do because the coach has been given enough time, and financial incentives, to prove himself and has been exposed — at this level of the game — as someone in whom a nation like ours can invest all its trust to take us a step forward in our quest for greatness in this game.
They will say Pasuwa was the main reason a promising group of Warriors failed to qualify for at least the quarter-finals of the 2017 afcon finals and, after an impressive show in their opening game against Algeria in which they showed they can stand toe-to-toe with the best on the continent, they only flattered to deceive as they were outplayed in their last two matches by Senegal and Tunisia.
That Senegal and Tunisia bowed out at the quarter-final stage, without scoring a goal in their matches, having scored six times against the Warriors, will be used by those people as proof that Pasuwa was found wanting, when it came to providing a strong defensive foundation on which his team, full of some exciting attacking talent, could launch their campaign.
Pasuwa’s choices have been a puzzle to many and that he not only questionably chose Elisha Muroiwa to be part of the heart of his central defence, against the background that the Dynamos defender was barely match fit having spent large parts of last season on the sidelines because of injury, but even stubbornly chose to stick with him for every match even when his shortcomings at this level were being crudely exposed, will be used as a case against the coach.
While it isn’t our job to take sides, being conscious of our role as a medium of nation building, who will always promote national interests, we believe that zifa should not have cut all ties with Pasuwa, especially now that he proved in the last two years that he can be a coach who can help us qualify for the afcon finals and, crucially, also picked some important lessons at that tournament which will only help to make him a better coach.
The best way to handle this issue would have been to make sure Pasuwa acknowledges that, when it comes to tournaments like the Nations Cup finals, he is still a rookie and has a lot of learning to do.
Qualifying for such tournaments, of course, is one thing, especially when two thirds of the opposition in your group are Swaziland and Malawi and you have Guinea being forced to play their opening match on neutral ground because of the Ebola virus, but handling a team at the finals, themselves, is a totally different animal.
And, going forward, the best arrangement should have been a situation where zifa brings in a coach with a proven pedigree of doing very well at the afcon finals, and there are many of them right now given the big number of coaches who have quit their jobs or are about to quit in the wake of the events in Gabon, who could come in as the overall boss of the Warriors.
Someone like Frenchman Claude Le Roy, who has had success across the length and breadth of the continent at this tournament for years now, who would have come with ideas that can help us compete at the afcon finals because it’s something that is now part of his DNA and which he has done over and over again.
In that arrangement, Pasuwa would then be made his assistant, so that he can learn as much as he can from the wily old fox, the way that Chidzambwa became an apprentice under Reinhard Fabisch during the Dream Team era before he was given the role to guide the Warriors, as their head coach, and ended our lengthy wait for a place at the afcon finals.
Pasuwa is still young, he was the second youngest coach in Gabon, and still has a lot to learn and a veteran like Le Roy would have been the right mentor and we believe such an arrangement would have made us compete against the very best on the continent and realise the potential that our exciting generation has.
We have already invested too much in Pasuwa just to let him go like that and, while he has a lot of his shortcomings, he also has a lot of strengths that can help our team and right now the emphasis should not be on discarding him, but making him understand that he needs help in a big way for the sake of our football.