By Robson Sharuko
CALLISTO Pasuwa might be the toast of the nation, after guiding the Warriors to a sensational Nations Cup win on Saturday, but his future with the team remains in doubt after handlers gave Zifa until tomorrow to pay him his dues or look for another coach.
The record-breaking gaffer turned himself into a national hero on Saturday after masterminding the Warriors’ first away win in a Nations Cup/World Cup qualifier in more than a decade with a stunning 2-1 victory over Malawi in Blantyre.
Given the turmoil in his camp last week, including poor preparations, a revolt staged by players after their damaging fallout with Zifa over allowances and match fees and a gruelling road trip where his men arrived in Blantyre just hours before the game, the victory in Malawi was very impressive.
The spectacular win — secured by goals from Cuthbert Malajila and Khama Billiat and an outstanding performance by rookie ‘keeper Tatenda Mukuruva — ended a barren 17-game search, spread over 11 years, in which the Warriors had failed to win on the road in either a Nations Cup or World Cup qualifier,
Zimbabwe’s last win in a qualifying tie at this level of the game, away from home, had come on July 3, 2004, when Peter Ndlovu and Tinashe Nengomasha scored in a 2-0 win over Rwanda in Kigali during the 2006 Nations Cup/World Cup qualifier.
Since then, the Warriors had lost 13 of the 17 Nations Cup/World Cup matches on the road, failing to score in 10 of the games, and only scoring two goals on two occasions against Namibia and Algeria.
They Warriors had also leaked goals in those away matches, conceding 29 goals in the 17 games, including five in one horror match, when they crashed to a 1-5 defeat at the hands of Nigeria on October 8 2005.
However, that poor run on the road was ended by Pasuwa and his gallant men who somehow negotiated a minefield of poor preparations, the chaos in their camp and an insensitive domestic football leadership, to deliver a stunning victory in Malawi.
Pasuwa, who only agreed to continue working as the Warriors coach after being persuaded by Sport, Arts and Culture Minister, Andrew Langa, after withdrawing his services earlier last week because of a pay row with Zifa, still has serious issues with his employers.
The coach has only been paid $100 in the nine months that he has been leading the Warriors and Young Warriors and his manager, Gibson Mahachi, told our Harare Bureau yesterday that they had given Zifa until tomorrow to resolve the issues that led to their fallout or Pasuwa might be forced to walk away.
It emerged last night that Pasuwa is now being targeted by the Malawians who were impressed with the work that he did with the Warriors on Saturday despite the challenges that he faced in the build-up to the game.
Malawi football authorities axed their coach, Young Chimodzi, and his assistant, Jack Chamangwana, yesterday and installed Flames legend, Ernest Mtawali, as the interim gaffer until a substantive coach is installed.
“The Football Association of Malawi leaders have shown real interest in getting Pasuwa since they have been closely following the events in Zimbabwe and the problems that the coach is having and they were impressed with how he conducted himself and set his team and they believe he could do a good job here,” sources told our Harare Bureau.
“The FAM officials apologised to the nation today (yesterday) after the loss against Zimbabwe and have promised that they’ll do everything in their power to get this campaign back on track and one of their main priorities, before the next Afcon game in September, is to get a good coach.
“They believe Pasuwa fits the kind of coach that they’re looking for and, right now, he could be an option because they know of the challenges that he’s facing there and they’re seriously having him in their picture.”
Mahachi said he wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the Malawians wanted Pasuwa because the coach’s profile has been rising and it was certainly boosted by the way he masterminded the win over the Flames in their backyard.
“Our position is that we’ve given Zifa until Tuesday to resolve the issues that created the problem that we had last week,” said Mahachi.
“The coach has shown his love for his country and there are very few people who could work under the same conditions that he has worked all these months and, be it in Cameroon or Malawi, he has shown everyone what he’s capable of doing.
“But he can’t continue working like this because he’s a family man and, at the end of the day, has to go back home and take care of his family.
“I’ve been talking to him since the game against Malawi and I’ve advised him that when he arrives home tomorrow (today) he should just go home and rest because he went through a lot last week.”
Pasuwa is scheduled to take charge of the Warriors’ CHAN qualifier against Indian Ocean islanders, Comoros, this coming weekend but Mahachi said his employers will have to resolve the pending issue about the coach’s working conditions first.
Teenage ‘keeper Mukuruva, just fresh out of high school, provided a towering performance in Malawi on Saturday that mocked his inexperience, at this level of football, justifying his coach’s faith in him with a dream show between the posts as he made a number of super saves.
That Pasuwa would invest his trust in Mukuruva, who is even not guaranteed the number one position at Dynamos, and overlook a number of seasoned ‘keepers, showed why he is a coach in a league of his own in this country and could be destined for greatness in a career where his pedigree has always not received the respect it deserves.
Billiat was unplayable in the second half, opening a highway down the left channel, as wide and as long as the one they had used for their road trip from Harare to Blantyre, repeatedly making a mockery of his marker with his bag of trickery and change of pace in what was a demonstration of wing play at its very best.
The Mamelodi Sundowns’ forward fittingly scored Zimbabwe’s winner, once again drifting into the space that he had created down the left and then curling a ball which floated in the wind to fool the ‘keeper and nestled in the top corner. The Herald