ZIFA circus rages

Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor—-

WARRIORS coach Callisto Pasuwa spent a frustrating day yesterday, with the senior team gaffer being detained at a Harare lodge as surety over an unpaid ZIFA debt for their stay during the week of camp at the lodge. ZIFA owe Daisy Lodge $11 200 that has been accumulating from the Warriors’ stay at the lodge.But it emerged that in the latest episode of the seemingly never ending tales of the ZIFA saga, Pasuwa had put his head on the block last week in a bid to have his players provided food and accommodation at the lodge with the coach pledging that he would use his influence to help get the troubled association to settle their bill.

This came as the lodge’s management had declined to bank on a written undertaking from ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze that they would pay on Sunday night from the proceeds of the game.

But true to their fears, there was nothing coming from ZIFA to the lodge and the management then decided that they would lock their gates and not allow the Warriors to leave until ZIFA had honoured their pledge. However, Pasuwa, worried about the implications of such a move on some of his charges such as Knowledge Musona and Mathew Rusike who had Monday morning flights to catch, then offered himself as collateral and spent the whole day holed up at the Greendale-based lodge.

Daisy Rusere, who owns the lodge, said it was unfortunate that they had been forced to take such action to try and press for payment from ZIFA, but insisted she still had good working relations with the association. “We have got a very good working relationship with ZIFA and other Premiership teams that come to stay here all the time. I am very understanding and I know that things are tight, but I also need to survive and we can only stay afloat if people pay for services.

“There had been a commitment to pay, but it’s a pity that the money is yet to come,’’ said Rusere. Despite spending a frustrating day sitting idly a day after guiding his charges to a crucial draw against a vastly changed Guinea side that brought their best arsenal for the assignment, Pasuwa said he had no hard feelings against Rusere and her management.

“I cannot say much about what has happened because it is more of an administrative problem, but I must say we like this lodge because it is ideal for camping, there is security and the peace that we need and they have good rooms that match some of the top hotels that we have stayed in when camping.

“It is a pity that she has not been paid after a commitment had been made and I had guaranteed that I would also push to have her paid. “I just felt it would not be fair to have players who are wanted back at their clubs being held up here so I pleaded with them to release the players and offered to stay while trying to find a solution to this drama,’’ Pasuwa said.

While Pasuwa chose to be diplomatic about the drama, his manager Gibson Mahachi was livid and reckoned that the circus that had ensued at the lodge underlined “the disrespect that the ZIFA secretariat has for the coach’’. “It is really very disappointing because after what he did with the national team, working so hard in very difficult conditions, you still reward him with the humiliation of being detained over a ZIFA debt.

“After working so hard all week in camp, he needed to go home and relax, but the next thing is he is caught up in this administrative mess. “We are turning this national team into a big joke yet it has so much potential to do well. “We know that the coach hardly had enough time to train the team either because there was no food or no bus to take them to training or after training.

“If we had lost the game, people would have been very angry and blaming it all on the coach, but I wonder whether they do know what is really happening?’’ Mahachi said. Mahachi implored ZIFA to take a more business-like approach to their dealings, arguing that the association would continue to lose respect from stakeholders if they continued on their current trend.

“If you make a commitment, you must honour it and if you fail to honour it, you must also be gentleman enough to come out in the open and admit that there have been challenges here and there,’’ Mahachi said. ZIFA are today expected to release their income and expenditure statement from the sell-out game at Rufaro, but given their huge debt, the association will no doubt remain in the red.