HE is not the most flamboyant of coaches, neither is he the most charismatic or eloquent, but Warriors coach Kalisto Pasuwa wrote his own piece of history when he led Zimbabwe to qualification for next year’s Gabon Africa Cup of Nations last week.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
Pasuwa has been incredibly successful in the past five years as a coach, including a record four consecutive league titles with Harare giants Dynamos. Many a football fan, however, still doubt his acumen, with many interesting stories flying about with regards to his success.
Even after the Warriors recorded an emphatic 3-0 win over Malawi, some of his staunchest critics could be heard saying, “Pasuwa is just a lucky coach”, while some attributed his success to use of juju (charms).
Others are adamant that he rides on mystic advice as well as holy waters and charm stones he allegedly gets from his apostolic sect church. Lately, rumour had it that the Warriors gaffer went on a 21-day period of fasting ahead of the crucial qualifier against Malawi.
Whatever the case, nothing can take away the fact that Pasuwa’s name will always be mentioned among the best coaches to lead the Zimbabwe Warriors.
In an interview with Standardsport before he left for Namibia with the Cosafa team, Pasuwa spoke of his success while dismissing all claims by his critics.
“I think I’m one person people have been saying different stories about since the day I started coaching. As a coach, I just do my job and see the results that come from there. I train my teams like everybody else, I plan for matches like everybody else and I get a lot of help from people who are senior to me, so I am not worried about what people say,” he said.
“But I also have my church, just like anybody else who goes to Salvation Army, Methodist or any other church. Maybe the only difference is that I go to an apostolic Masowe church and I think that’s why people have a problem with me.”
Pasuwa became the third coach to take Zimbabwe to the Africa Cup of Nations after Sunday Chidzambwa in Tunisia (2004) and Charles Mhlauri in Egypt (2006), only he did it emphatically with a game to spare in addition to being the group leader.
The former Dynamos coach did it in a campaign whose beginning was mired in uncertainty, having travelled to Malawi by bus and arriving in the wee hours of the match day in the first group stage round of matches.
By then, he didn’t even have a proper contract and was owed money by the football association, but he delivered results nevertheless.
The senior national team coach — who is already being courted by clubs in Africa — said it has always been his desire to qualify Zimbabwe for Afcon as well as every other tournament that comes.
“It’s something that I have been crying for in my life to maybe take a team to the Afcon finals as this will surely add value to my CV as a coach. As a coach, I want to qualify for every tournament that has to be qualified for, which is a legacy I want to leave for Zimbabwean football,” he said.
For Pasuwa, it’s a journey he had not planned for when he hung up his boots back in 2001 as a Dynamos player.
But a number of Dynamos senior football personalities such as Bernard Marriot, Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambwa and Fred Mugadza dragged him from social football, after which he became the DeMbare coach.
His teams have never been known to play attractive football, but they, all the same, get the job done.
Even his team selection always leaves tongues wagging, but it’s no coincidence because it has always been his desire to get the best out of young players as well as those thought to be average players and get them to play abroad.
The Afcon finals next year provide the perfect platform for some of his locally-based players to be scouted and break into some of Europe’s top leagues.
“I see a lot of them going to play abroad after the Africa Cup of Nations and I am privileged to have senior players who are always encouraging some of the locally-based players in the team to up their game. I have been using some of the boys that were thought to be average players, giving them game time to build their confidence so that they can play outside,” he said.