The chaos engulfing the national soccer team with just a month to go before the African Nations’ Championship (Chan) tournament is proof that Zifa councillors’ recent decision to give the most important post in local football to Phillip Chiyangwa was a mistake.
Chiyangwa was elected Zifa president three weeks ago despite the fact that he had no proven track record as a football administrator.
The businessman rode on his political connections and financial muscle to land the post, which in the past has been occupied by people of dubious backgrounds and abilities.
Dissenting voices were drowned by a section of the media that appeared to be in Chinyangwa’s pocket and the characters that ended up at the helm of local football were never properly scrutinised.
Now the chickens are coming home to roost as Zimbabwe’s preparations for the Chan tournament to be held in Rwanda next month are up in smoke because of knee jerk decisions taken by Chiyangwa’s inexperienced administration.
Zifa last week brewed a shocker when they decided to fire national team coach Kalisto Pasuwa and his entire technical team after disagreements over allowances before reinstating him hours later following pressure from government.
The decision to sack the national team coach was made with so much haste that it defied logic.
To put the issue into perspective, Pasuwa had a terrific record with the Warriors this year as they remained unbeaten in 2015 under very trying conditions.
The team had to travel by bus to Malawi for an African Cup of Nations assignment against the Flames after Zifa bungled their travel arrangements.
Pasuwa also oversaw the Warriors qualification for Chan and the progression of the under-23 national side for the All Africa Games that were held in Congo.
The sacking of the trailblazing coach 12 days after Chiyangwa was elected into office shows that the councillors experimented with a novice who would find it very difficult to extricate local football from the doldrums.
Whatever problems Zifa had with Pasuwa, there were certainly better ways to address them than to disrupt preparations for an important tournament a few days before it begins.
Chiyangwa has since indicated that Zifa had rehired Pasuwa following a directive from Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane that the coach must be reinstated.
Fifa abhors interference by governments in the running of football federations, but Hlongwane’s intervention should be applauded.
Zifa has to put its house in order as soon as possible to ensure that the national team resumes preparations for the tournament and avert a potential disaster in Rwanda, if the Warriors go to the tournament unprepared to face the continent’s best.
The full story around Pasuwa’s sacking has not been told, but there are indications that it has to do with attempts to bring one of Chiyangwa’s backers Wellington Mapandare into the Warriors fold.
Mupandare would replace long-time team manager Sharrif Mussa who has served the Warriors with distinction.
Zifa claims it took the harsh decision to fire the coach because it feared there was a conflict of interest with Pasuwa’s manager Gibson Mahachi, reportedly representing most of the players that have been called into camp.
These issues are not new and such an excuse by Zifa is difficult to buy.
Zimbabweans are tired of the mismanagement of local football and they gave Chiyangwa the mandate to give them a clean break from the past where chaos before national team assignments had become the norm.
He should rise up to the challenge or pave way for more competent leadership to rescue local football from mediocrity.