Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
PREMIERSHIP coaches have backed Warriors coach Callisto Pasuwa’s decision to select a senior side laced with a galaxy of stars dotted around Europe and South Africa, with many of them calling on ZIFA to ensure better preparations for the African Cup of Nations showdown against Guinea.
Zimbabwe will host Guinea in a Group L qualifier at Rufaro on September 6 and expectations are high among the local football family that Pasuwa’s men could grind their second victory in the campaign for a place at the 2017 Nations Cup in Gabon.
The Warriors began their qualifying marathon with a 2-1 win over Malawi in Blantyre that masked the chaotic manner in which the squad prepared for the trip.
In that game, Pasuwa used the bulk of the national Under-23 stars whom he blended with experienced players.
But with the Young Warriors unavailable following a clash in commitments with the Warriors tie against Guinea, Pasuwa this time picked easily the strongest squad of his tenure as national coach, raising hopes among local fans some of whom have also been wondering whether this could be the latter day Dream Team.
The 44-year-old coach selected a squad of players drawn from English, Danish, Belgian, Swedish and the Czech Republic and South African Leagues as well as home-grown talent.
Crucially for Pasuwa, he received the thumbs up from his colleagues who are coaching local top-flight clubs with Warriors’ history-making coach Sunday Chidzambwa leading the way in praising his protégé.
“I think it is a very strong squad and it is also important that the coach is now settled and can focus on his job.
“Personally, I don’t know some of the new players that he has called, but I know about Costa Nhamoinesu, Quincy Antipas, Nyasha Mushekwi and Knowledge Musona from those he has called from Europe.
“I thought since we are playing at home we need to play an attacking game and he has the fire-power and the balance he has tried to bring in the team shows that he is in the right direction.
“He has a decent squad that can produce the results,’’ Chidzambwa said.
The Kariba gaffer was the first coach to take the Warriors to the Nations Cup when he led them to the 2004 competition in Tunisia.
He also previously had a stint as an assistant to the late Reinhard Fabisch in the era of the Dream Team.
Chidzambwa said although Pasuwa had picked a “very strong’’ side, there was need to guard against complacency and read too much into the fact that the Elephants lost their opening game 2-1 to Swaziland.
“We must not judge Guinea based on the result they posted against Swaziland. We have to be ready and Guinea have a lot of players from European leagues and it is good that our coach has also picked players who regularly play against those players and he can now blend them with those who are paying here and in South Africa,’’ Chidzambwa said.
Another ex-Warriors coach Norman Mapeza felt the squad was strong enough to withstand the challenge that will be posed by the West Africans.
“Guinea have always been troubling us, but I think if we can win this match and go onto to win our next qualifier, we will be home and dry.
“It is a good team and my only wish is that ZIFA must ensure that all the issues to do with bonuses and appearance fees are ironed out by Monday night and not to leave things until the Saturday before the game.
“It is not like when players come they will not be focused, but it becomes a challenge when there is no food in camp and things have not been put in place on time,’’ Mapeza said.
CAPS United assistant coach Brenna Msiska said the nation is pinning hopes on qualification for the Nations Cup following Zimbabwe’s expulsion from the World Cup.
“It is a good team that has players who have been gaining experience from playing in Europe and I think they have the capacity to deliver.
“AFCON is now our only World Cup and we should make the most of it,’’ Msiska said.
Chicken Inn gaffer Joey Antipas said he was happy that the coach had considered current form when picking his Warriors.
“I think it is a good blend of youth and experience that has been picked based on current form and this is one of the best squads chosen,” Antipas said.
Triangle’s Zambian coach Kelvin Kaindu said he respected Pasuwa for being a “good tactician’’ and backed the Warriors to overcome the Elephants.
“Guinea have to be treated with respect, but Pasuwa is one of the best tacticians we have and is so good that he has cast his net wider to consider more players from Europe,’’ Kaindu said.
Whahwa technical director Lloyd Mutasa said Pasuwa’s selection reminded him of the Dream Team era.
“We stand a better chance of qualifying if we use players who are playing in the tougher European leagues and remember that is how the basis of the Dream Team was formed. We have a good coach who is proving himself and ZIFA must play ball now and support him and the players,’’ Mutasa said.