Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa insists the association is keen to engage national coach Callisto Pasuwa on a full-time basis and has allayed fears that contract talks between the two parties could collapse ahead of the Warriors trip to Rwanda this week.
Chiyangwa said yesterday ZIFA were determined to ensure the Warriors and their coach will be highly motivated by the time they leave for their tour of duty.
The ZIFA boss cited their big decision to allow the senior team to share the CHAN prize money as one of the major moves they have taken to motivate the players.
The Warriors are already guaranteed $100 000 as the minimum they will get for being at the tournament.
Should they finish third in their group, they will pocket $125 000 while a place in the quarter-final brings $175 000 and losing semi-finalists will get $250 000.
If they go all the way to the final they will either get $400 000 for being runners-up while the ultimate prize has a cheque of $750 000.
Chiyangwa has also secured sponsorship for the Warriors from businessman Wicknell Chivayo who has pledged to fund their upkeep in Rwanda.
Zimbabwe will make their fourth successive appearance at the African Nations Championships that will burst into life in Kigali on Saturday.
The Warriors are in a tough Group D in which they face perennial rivals Zambia in the opening match before taking on West African giants Mali and East African football kings Uganda.
Although the Warriors have stepped up their act at their training camp at Gateway High School where Pasuwa and his assistants Saul Chaminuka, Nation Dube and goalkeepers’ coach Richard Tswatswa have been busy fine-tuning the 27-member squad, the coach has also had to grapple with distractions related to protracted talks over his contract.
There have also been genuine concerns that if not handled well, the contract talks could yet become the latest drawback to the Warriors’ preparations which have already twice suffered disturbances.
The Warriors first had a false start to camp because of lack of logistics and when they eventually began preparations they were pegged back by ZIFA’s ill-advised and rash decision to fire Pasuwa and dissolve the training camp.
But Chiyangwa yesterday described the contract talks between ZIFA and Pasuwa as work in progress and demanded patience while the parties conclude discussions.
Chiyangwa has secured sponsorship of a vehicle to be used by Pasuwa, with ZIFA’s new benefactor Chivayo pledging to provide the car.
“I am sure we will soon come to an agreement with the coach over his contract. ZIFA and government are looking at the issue of his contract whereby if we can’t pay for the coach, government will take over,’’ Chiyangwa said.
Chiyangwa urged the domestic football family to respect the process of negotiations which is taking place between ZIFA and Pasuwa through the coach’s manager Gibson Mahachi.
“I must say it (the talks) is an employer and employee issue and negotiations must be allowed to take place without any undue influence at any stage of the talks’’.
Mahachi was by late last night locked in a meeting with ZIFA board member Edzai Kasinauyo and Pasuwa as they sought to thrash out a deal.
Crucially the contract talks between ZIFA and Pasuwa should not only be centred on the CHAN tournament as the former Dynamos coach and his Warriors are also poised for qualification for the 2017 African Cup of Nations after leaping into joint leadership in their group with Swaziland.
That Nations Cup campaign also has Guinea and Malawi in Group L and the Warriors will resume their qualification bid with a trip to Swaziland in March.
Although a lot has been said about Pasuwa’s contract, the ZIFA president chose to turn his focus on their decision to cede whatever the Warriors will earn from their sojourn in Rwanda to the national team and cited it as a show of his executive’s commitment to turn around the senior side’s fortunes.
Previous ZIFA boards have over the years fought battles with the Warriors after the national team would have returned home from participating at either the CHAN competitions or the African Cup of Nations with the association reneging on promises they would have made upon qualification.
But Chiyangwa said it will be different ball game this time around with his leadership emulating what is often associated with such organisations like the South African Football Association by electing to let the players and the coaches share the spoils from their showing at the CHAN tournament.
Despite being disappointed that their national team failed to make impact on home soil, SAFA gave Bafana Bafana the $125 000 they earned for their group appearance at the 2014 CHAN tournament in Cape Town.
But as they look to have the Warriors reap the rewards of their participation at CHAN, ZIFA would also have to ensure they do not exert undue pressure on a side that has not had the best of preparations.
The Warriors have also been unlucky with injuries to key players such as skipper Danny Phiri and four others and the withdrawal of centre back Teenage Hadebe rocking their plans for the competition.
Although Pasuwa has not hidden his desire to better the Warriors’ 2014 record in which they finished fourth, the reality is that it will not be an easy road for the senior team in Rubavu where the Group D will be based.
This is because Zambia, Mali and Uganda, who have risen to become the highest-ranked teams in Group D, will not be easy opponents.
The Cranes, who are the CECAFA champions are according to the latest FIFA World rankings, rated the globe’s number 62 side and the 12th best in Africa, while the Warriors are number 108 in the world and 31 on the continent.
Zimbabwe were seeded in the Group based on their previous CHAN success where they finished fourth and drew 0-0 with Uganda in the group games and knocked out Mali in the quarter-finals with a 2-1 triumph that came via goals from Simba Sithole and Kuda Mahachi.