AFTER weeks of speculation and uncertainty surrounding Kalisto Pasuwa’s future as Warriors coach, the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) officially severed ties with the former Dynamos gaffer last week.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
While the general sentiment is that Pasuwa had to go, largely due to the team’s performance at the Gabon Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), his tenure was largely a successful one.
In fact, truth be told, Pasuwa moved mountains against all odds to take Zimbabwe through a rare successful patch, leading the team to the Afcon finals for the first time since 2006.
From his first match in charge back in May 2015, a 2-0 win over Mauritius in a Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) encounter to his last, an embarrassing 4-1 Afcon drubbing by Tunisia last month, Pasuwa’s record stands at 11 wins, nine draws and six losses in 26 assignments.
Yet one cannot help but feel that it was the right decision to sack him. Below, Standardsport looks at some of the reasons which might have led to Pasuwa’s demise.
Poor tournament record
While qualifying for tournaments seemed to be Pasuwa’s cup of tea, it is his record at tournaments which could have been his biggest undoing.
In 2015, he qualified the national Under-23 side to the Brazzaville All Africa Games, but lost to Burkina Faso and Sudan before winning the consolation match against the hosts to finish bottom of the group.
At the Cosafa Castle Cup tournament in 2015, his Warriors failed to navigate past through the group stages in a group that had Namibia, Mauritius and Zimbabwe.
After the Cosafa disappointment, Pasuwa qualified the locally-based Warriors to the Africa Nations Championships without losing a match.
Identical 1-0 defeats to Zambia and Mali, as well as a draw against Uganda, meant the Warriors again crushed out bottom of the group in January last year.
Then came Cosafa again in June 2016 and Pasuwa’s charges failed to beat Swaziland and Madagascar, thus faltering in the group stages.
But it was in Gabon that Pasuwa’s big stage shortcomings were exposed and it was the team’s performance at Afcon that precipitated his inevitable sacking.
Choice of backroom staff
Considering his lack of exposure at international level, one would have expected Pasuwa to select a more experienced backroom staff. Instead, the former Dynamos and Warriors midfielder opted for coaches who have far lesser experience than him.
The trio of Saul Chaminuka, Mkhupali Masuku and Richard Tswatswa all had no experience beyond the country’s borders, either as players or as coaches, let alone the lack of a proven track record of success.
In the end, it was a backroom staff with no value to add and just there to make up the numbers on the bench.
And to make matters worse, Pasuwa trashed the High Performance Committee (HPC)’s recommendation for a vastly experienced technical advisor ahead of the Afcon finals.
When push came to shove in Gabon, there was no strong second opinion for Pasuwa to fall back on, hence he kept on hoping to get different results while using the same tactic.
Unwanted at Zifa
It is also possible that the four-time Premier Soccer League-winning coach was unwanted by the current football administration body.
Barely three weeks after assuming office, the Phillip Chiyangwa-led Zifa board fired Pasuwa for no apparent reason in December 2015.
But it was a decision that caused an uproar from football fans and had to be reversed. One is, therefore, left with a feeling that Zifa was waiting for a genuine reason to fire Pasuwa.
One is also left feeling that the setting up of the HPC, which rubber-stamped Pasuwa’s sacking, was a deliberate ploy to plot the coach’s dismissal.
And when it was announced that Pasuwa would present his report to the HPC, the writing was on the wall that he term had ended.
Bearing in mind how he has been treated by Zifa during his tenure, Pasuwa’s timid and sheepish nature made him appear too desperate to hang on to the Warriors job.
He was never the kind of coach who could challenge the football association or demand better preparations, better working conditions or publicly stand up for his players to get their dues during international assignments.
Pasuwa was the coach who would get whatever he was given and never pushed for what he wanted.
It became his trademark to use the poor preparations card as an alibi.
Warriors’ lack of depth
Pasuwa’s loyalists have argued that his Afcon team was not good enough and his Afcon performance was better than expected, considering what he had to work with.
His downfall could also have been as a result of taking too long to register an interest in some of the English-born players such as Tendai Darikwa, Macauley Bonne and Brendon Galloway.
Ironically, Darikwa and Galloway are defenders, a department in which Zimbabwe was palpably short of quality.
Having used Bonne in an Under-23 friendly against Morocco in November 2014 and having publicly appreciated his class, he should have made it a priority to bring players like him, who are interested in donning the Warriors colours.