Pasuwa throws in the towel
Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
WARRIORS coach Callisto Pasuwa became the first major casualty of Zimbabwe’s failed 2017 African Cup of Nations campaign when the gaffer threw in the towel yesterday and announced from Gabon that he was stepping down from his post.
An emotional Pasuwa told The Herald from Libreville, shortly before his team’s departure for their journey back home, that he was stepping aside to pave way for another coach to take over.
His resignation brings to an end a two-year reign in charge of the Warriors side that he guided to only Zimbabwe’s third appearance at the Nations Cup finals.
Pasuwa revealed that he had done some soul-searching and felt that he needed to step down in the wake of the Warriors failure.
The 46-year-old coach is expected to meet with his manager Gibson Mahachi and ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa on his return from the tournament, where the Warriors managed just a point from their 2-2 draw against Algeria before losing to Senegal (2-0) and suffering a 4-2 humiliation by Tunisia.
But the former Dynamos coach, who still had a few weeks of his initial contract running and which was set for review by ZIFA yesterday, said he was taking full responsibility for the Warriors’ poor campaign in which his class became the first Zimbabwe team to bow out of the Nations Cup without a win and finished at the bottom of Group B.
Pasuwa effectively paid the price for his team’s failure, where the Warriors’ Achilles Heel was a weak defence, especially the centre back partnership of Costa Nhamoinesu and Elisha Muroiwa that was erratic in all the matches.
The Zimbabwe coach threw in the towel on the same day that his Algerian counterpart Georges Leekens also resigned following the Desert Foxes’ early exit from the Nations Cup.
Algeria were among the pre-tournament favourites, but just like the Warriors, they were knocked out of the competition after failing to win a game in Gabon.
After they impressed in their opening game against Algeria, the Warriors had raised the nation’s hopes that they could better their previous Nations Cup record, but Pasuwa’s men were crudely exposed in their next two assignments against Senegal and Tunisia.
“Following Zimbabwe’s participation at the African Cup of Nations in Gabon, where we unfortunately failed to go beyond the Group B stage, I think I should step aside and make way for another coach to take over,” said Pasuwa.
“We had set ourselves a target of at least a quarter-final place, which regrettably we couldn’t reach and it’s painful as the decision may be I think we tried but failed. As the head coach, I take full responsibility for our performance in Gabon and I thus tender my resignation from the post of Zimbabwe senior men’s team coach.
“I believe it is time to pass on the button to someone to take over for the 2019 AFCON qualifiers and beyond.
“I think I have done my part to try and develop the game in Zimbabwe from the time I was appointed the Under-23 coach and later on as the head coach of the Warriors and I am proud to see the way most of our Under-23 players graduated into the senior team and I know they can continue to serve the country very well.”
A four-time Premiership championship winner with Dynamos, Pasuwa also paid tribute to the Government, the ZIFA leadership and the fans who backed his Warriors.
“I thank the Zimbabwe Government through the Minister of Sport and Recreation (Makhosini Hlongwane) for all the support to the national team, the media and all the Zimbabweans who supported and believed in us.
“I am sorry we let the nation down in Gabon, but I believe if we can learn and build from this experience, we will do better in the next campaign and like I said, the foundation is there now for the future Warriors to work on.
“I would like to thank the former ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube, who first appointed me as coach and I would like to give special thank you to the current ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa for retaining confidence in me and extending my contract, which gave me an opportunity to lead my country to the Nations Cup.
“I also thank my family for all the patience and support, especially in the difficult times when I worked for several months without a salary.
“My manager Gibson Mahachi stood by me and would at times pay my rentals when I went without a salary’’.
Pasuwa said paid tribute to his lieutenants, whom he advised about his decision to quit following a technical meeting he held with them at their team hotel in the Gabonese capital earlier yesterday.
“My technical team — the team manager, my assistants, the doctors, fitness trainer and kit manager — have done a wonderful job and I thank them for that.
“I was privileged to work with a wonderful bunch of players led by Willard Katsande and I believe we have laid the foundation for regular qualification to big tournaments like AFCON. We have a lot of young players whom I think have gained a lot of experience and should be given another chance.
“I also give special thanks to Mr Wicknell Chivayo for coming on board to take care of my welfare, Prophet Walter Magaya and Mrs Rusere of Daisy Lodge, who helped us during the qualifiers as well as well as all the companies and individuals who supported us to reach Gabon. I will personally go and thank the ZIFA president and his board when I get back home and I wish the Warriors the best for the future,’’ Pasuwa said.
It was not immediately clear whether the association will try to retain the coach and get Pasuwa to change his mind and stay on.
The Warriors are set to return to action in June for the 2019 AFCON qualifiers.