Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
WARRIORS coach Callisto Pasuwa has pleaded with Premier Soccer League clubs to release players when the senior team launch their final bid for a place at the 2016 African Nations Championships with a date against Lesotho at Barbourfields next month.
The Warriors will be at home for their final qualifier, first leg tie on October 18 with the reverse fixture slated for Maseru the following weekend.
But Pasuwa is worried that shoddy preparations that have often characterised his national teams largely due to lack of co-operation from ZIFA and the clubs, could come back to haunt them again in their decisive encounter against the Crocodiles.
It is against this background that the national coach who is also chasing qualification glory in the 2017 African Cup of Nations campaign, wants the Premiership clubs to give him full support in their “final push’’.
Pasuwa revealed yesterday that he will now be forced to make a number of changes to his CHAN squad following the departure to professional leagues by a host of players largely drawn from his promising Under-23 squad.
Young Warriors skipper Wisdom Mutasa, his former FC Platinum teammate Walter Musona and ex-CAPS United left-back Ronald Pfumbidzai lead a cast of players who left to join clubs outside the country and have now become ineligible to play in the CHAN squad.
Former Buffaloes defender Liberty Chakoroma who is now with Free States Stars, ex-Hwange man Evans Rusike who joined Mariztburg United and striker Tinotenda Kadewere who moved to Swedish top-flight outfit Djagardens were also part of the CHAN squad until they found new bases outside the country during the last transfer window.
The CHAN tournament is a competition that is reserved only for those players plying their trade in their national leagues.
To his credit PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele has been steadfast in encouraging local clubs to support the CHAN squad arguing that it is a “PSL national squad’ and has also availed some resources to help the Warriors when in camp’.
Ndebele believes the Warriors CHAN squad gives a reflection of the strength of the domestic Premiership and wants the national coach to be afforded the best players he wants and the PSL chief executive has made provisions on his fixtures programme to free the weekends when the senior side would be in action.
“We have to give maximum support to the CHAN squad because it’s made up of PSL players and we take it as our national team and its successes reflects positively on the strength of our league,’ Ndebele said.
But Pasuwa who has already encountered problems with the release of players in previous assignments wants the clubs to back Ndebele’s wish by affording him more time with the players.
Just two weeks ago, Pasuwa saw the National Under-23 squad for the African Games being seriously affected by the withdrawal of key players by Dynamos and FC Platinum who recalled a combined five influential players between them including first choice goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva.
The 44-year — old coach noted that playing against such teams like Lesotho in the CHAN qualifiers presented with it potential Banana skins and the Warriors would need to be adequately prepared when they face the Crocodiles.
“I have been scouting for players to replace those that have left and are now ineligible and we will pick the best from what we have in the country.
“But we will also not lose sight of the fact that we have to build a team for the future and the cream of the Under-23 team will form the core of the CHAN squad so that we also build a strong Warriors squad for the future.
“We should not look at the history between Zimbabwe and Lesotho and think that since we used to beat them in the COSAFA Cup therefore we do not need to prepare adequately.
“We would need a longer training camp because this is the final qualifier and we can’t take chances. We cannot get the combinations to be perfect after just two days of training. We also need to move away from the negativity that is affecting our football . . . it is just too much,’’ Pasuwa said.
Pasuwa’s concerns could be emanating from the fact that when he compares his Warriors to other countries, the senior team’s preparations easily pass for a joke.
Just yesterday Uganda put in motion their preparations with their Serbian coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic naming a 25-man provisional squad to commence preparations for their CHAN final qualifier against Sudan next month.
The Cranes side comprised of locally based players will have their first training session on Saturday morning at Nakivubo Stadium.
The Uganda Premier League is ongoing but Micho has been accorded a benefit of doubt with clubs releasing players for national duty, a feat he considers a good gesture to his preparation plans.
“We highly value and sincerely recognise and appreciate the immeasurable contributions of local based players and coaches towards Uganda Cranes. With this weekend, one training session intended to help the team gel means we are starting early preparations for upcoming CHAN qualifiers against Sudan,” said Micho.
Uganda host Sudan in the first leg on October 17 before playing in Khartoum a week later on October 24 in the return leg with the winner earning a slot at the biennial competition that will be hosted in Rwanda from January 16-February 7.