Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor—
ZIFA’s High Performance Committee have endorsed Callisto Pasuwa for the Warriors job ahead of the 2017 Nations Cup qualifiers as the influence of Dynamos’ sons continues to be felt in Zimbabwe’s quest for continental glory. Pasuwa becomes the latest former DeMbare coach, or player, to be tasked with guiding the Warriors in a bid for a place at the continental soccer showpiece.
The 44-year-old four-time Premiership winning coach came out as the best candidate in the eyes of the HPC who will now recommend to the ZIFA Board to table a contract for him.
ZIFA Board Member (development) John Phiri emerged from a marathon meeting of the HPC, which he chairs, to announce that the panel of experts tasked with giving the association’s leadership technical advice had settled for Pasuwa.
Phiri, a Warriors legend, said the HPC had also recommended that Pasuwa be retained as national Under-23 coach with his deputy in the Young Warriors, Saul Chaminuka, being tasked with taking charge of the youth team whenever there is a clash of assignments.
“We have met as the High Performance Committee and we have come up with our set of recommendations which will now be forwarded to the ZIFA Board,” Phiri told The Herald last night.
“The recommendations are that Callisto Pasuwa should be in charge of the AFCON team. He will also remain in charge of the Under-23 team because we do not want to disrupt the good work that he has started with the Young Warriors.
“We have also said in the case where the Warriors assignments are clashing with the Under-23 games, Pasuwa will split roles with his assistant Saul Chaminuka, with the latter taking charge of the other assignments, depending on the importance of the assignment.
“We are also eager to try and qualify for the Olympic Games and that is why we have recommended that the coach takes charge of the Olympic team and Chaminuka will be with the COSAFA squad.”
Phiri also revealed that Jairos Tapera has been recommended as an addition to the COSAFA Cup technical crew where he will assist Chaminuka.
“Now that the High Performance Committee has drawn up their recommendations, I am sure the Board will convene very soon and discuss the recommendations because we do not have time on our side,” said Phiri.
“The committee also recommended that Shariff Mussa be the manager for the AFCON team and the Olympic team and I am sure the pressure at his businesses has eased a bit to allow him to execute his duties with the national team. I also think that once the Board has dealt with the recommendations, then the coach’s contract will be finalised.”
Hwange coach Nation Dube and Triangle goalkeepers’ coach Tembo Chuma complete Pasuwa’s team of lieutenants.
Although some of his critics may point to Pasuwa’s appointment as a desperate and cheap option for ZIFA, the 2012 Caste Lager Premiership Coach of the Year seemed to have convinced the HPC that he has the pedigree to lead Zimbabwe’s 2017 Nations Cup campaign after shocking Cameroon to guide his Young Warriors to a place at the 2015 African Games in Congo, Brazzaville.
Pasuwa, using a makeshift side, beat Cameroon 1-0 at Rufaro before bravely eking out a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture in Yaoundé.
The unassuming coach had earlier worked in the Warriors trenches as an assistant to Ian Gorowa during the failed 2015 Nations Cup campaign before he was elevated to caretaker coach on the basis that he was the Under-23 coach.
Pasuwa also appears to have charmed the HPC with his exploits with Dynamos with whom he won the domestic championship in each of the four years that he was in charge of the Glamour Boys between August 2011 and December 2014 and added eight cup titles such as the Mbada Diamonds Cup, TM Pick ‘N’ Pay, Bob Super Cup and the Gushungo Cup.
Interestingly, Pasuwa’s appointment shows the influence that former Dynamos players and coaches have had on the domestic football landscape.
Warriors’ history-making coach Sunday Chidzambwa was a success at Dynamos, both as coach and player, with the veteran gaffer’s crowning moment with the national team coming in 2004 when he became the first man to lead Zimbabwe to the Nations Cup.
DeMbare have also been Zimbabwe’s most successful club on the continent with Sunday Chidzambwa leading them to a runners-up spot in the 1998 Champions League final.
Sunday’s young brother Misheck also took charge of the Warriors, becoming the first coach to guide them to COSAFA Cup success in 2000.
Gorowa might have been based in South Africa at the time of his appointment to the Warriors, but he also traces his playing career to Dynamos.
Current Dynamos coach David “Yogi” Mandigora and former Zimbabwe captain Moses Chunga, who both played for and coached the Harare giants, have had influential roles in the Warriors coaching department. Chunga was assistant to Charles Mhlauri during the opening part of the qualifying campaign for the 2006 Nations Cup with Mandigora coming in during the tournament staged in Egypt.
Mandigora was also an assistant to Brazilian Valinhos during the failed bid for places at the 2010 World Cup and Nations Cup tournaments.
Now the onus is upon Pasuwa to try and pass the Warriors test where only Sunday Chidzambwa and Mhlauri have succeeded.
Pasuwa’s first Nations Cup assignment will be a clash against Malawi’s Flames on June 14 before his Warriors take on Guinea on the weekend of September 4-6.
Sandwiched between the Nations Cup qualifiers will also be the qualification campaign for the 2016 African Nations Championships which will start in June.
But given ZIFA’s chequered history with national coaches, there is no doubting that the issue of a contract will be central to Pasuwa assuming and settling into the demanding job.