Warriors and national Under-23 coach Kalisto Pasuwa faces a busy year that will see him tasked with qualification campaigns for six major tournaments.
BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
CAF last week released 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and 2018 World Cup qualifying schedules that begin in June and October respectively.
To add on to the demanding assignments, Pasuwa will also have to guide the Under-23s to the All-Africa Games, African Under-23 Championship and 2016 Rio Olympics.
The All-Africa Games would be staged in Congo Brazzaville in September while the Under-23 Championships are scheduled for DRC in December from where the top-three teams will automatically qualify for the Olympics.
Pasuwa will also this year plunge in the bid for the 2016 Africa Nations Championship (Chan) that would be hosted by Rwanda next year.
The Cosafa Cup to be held in South Africa at a date yet to be announced will be another tournament on Pasuwa’s 2015 itinerary, although no qualification matches are played.
He will take charge of three squads: the senior national team for Afcon and World Cup qualifiers, the Warriors developmental side for Chan and Cosafa as well as the Young Warriors in their quest to qualify for the All-Africa Games, African Under-23 Championship and Olympics.
While the former Dynamos gaffer is faced with what appears to be a testing year, his efforts to gear up for the tournaments have already been frustrated by Zifa.
With less than a month before the All-Africa Games qualifiers begin, a technical plan drawn by coach Kalisto Pasuwa is yet to be approved by Zifa.
Before the conclusion of the Premier Soccer League campaign last year, Pasuwa intended to set up a training camp last month but his request received no response from the association.
Zifa have continued with their cold shoulder on Pasuwa and his technical team who are now stranded ahead of the All-Africa Games qualifiers that begin with a first round date against Swaziland on the weekend of February 20-22.
While the burden of the matches seems to be on Pasuwa, cash-strapped Zifa are also faced with the bigger load of ensuring a smooth participation in all the tournaments.
Pasuwa could not be reached for comment last week as he was said to be in marathon prayer sessions.
“There is no communication from Zifa whatsoever,” said Under-23 manager Patrick Mutesva.
“It is now the end of January and yet we do not know Zifa’s plans. We gave them our plans last year but they have not come back to us. The impression we have is that they do not have money for our camping but at least communication is vital. Trying to phone them has not yielded any results, so I think I will have to go to the headquarters on Monday [tomorrow] and check on them because time is running out.”
The Young Warriors played Botswana, Swaziland and Morocco in international friendlies last year and face strong opponents like Senegal, Cameroon and South Africa in the All-Africa Games and Under-23 Championship qualifiers.
“We have never had enough time with players even for the international friendlies we played because we would train once or twice before each game. Right now the coach does not yet have a clear picture of his team because of the limited time,” said Mutesva.
Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela however attempted to paint a picture that everything is under control, saying they are in touch with the technical team.
While Mutesva professed ignorance of communication from Zifa, Gwesela said they had convened a meeting with the technical squad last week but postponed it to attend the funeral of Harare Province Junior League chairman Onias Kadewere.
“We were supposed to meet them on [last] Friday but will now meet them on Tuesday or Wednesday. We were dealing with Kadewere’s funeral so we were busy. After the meeting we will come up with a concrete programme for this year,” said Gwesela.
Cracks within the Zifa board have widened at this crucial moment and Gwesela said it will meet “soon.”