DESPERATE ZIFA are set to meet in the capital tomorrow to try and find ways to resolve their impasse with national coach Callisto Pasuwa and lure the Warriors gaffer back to his job and put Zimbabwe’s preparations for the African Cup of Nations campaign back into motion.
Pasuwa walked out on both the national Under-23 and Warriors teams in protest at the manner in which ZIFA had been treating him, particularly their failure to pay him his salaries since last year.
The coach has endured a frustrating and painful wait for ZIFA to pay him and also offer him a contract.
Pasuwa’s move threw into turmoil, the Warriors’ preparations for their Nations Cup Group L qualifier against Guinea in Harare on September 6 and left ZIFA under mounting pressure.
But it has emerged that ZIFA have not given up hopes of restoring order by luring Pasuwa back to resume his duties.
ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze said yesterday they had convened a board meeting on Friday to deliberate on Pasuwa’s issue.
Mashingaidze insisted that ZIFA had not begun a search for any new coach as they wanted to find ways to resolve their impasse with Pasuwa.
ZIFA have been negotiating with Pasuwa, through his manager Gibson Mahachi, and the respected agent has also made it clear that they laid their cards on the table for the soccer mother body to consider and now the “ball is in ZIFA’s court”.
Mashingaidze yesterday acknowledged as much and said they were running around to try and secure some funding to pay the coach and lay the groundwork for contract talks to begin.
“We are meeting as a board on Friday to discuss the issue of the national coach and find ways to quickly resolve this matter. We have been seized with it for some time and obviously the key issue revolves around funding for his upkeep.
“We would want to ensure the coach is back at work in time to draw up his call-up list for the Guinea game and get the preparations underway. There is need for the letters of request to go to the various clubs at least two weeks before and until the coach has decided on which foreign and local players he would want those requests cannot go so we believe all that can be done once the issue of the coach has been sorted,” Mashingaidze said.
ZIFA are also under immense pressure to resolve the Warriors crisis and avoid the blunders they made in the past when they changed coaches in mid-stream with the circus that brought in Tom Saintfiet, Madinda Ndlovu and Norman Mapeza being the highlight of the administrative gaffes that cost Zimbabwe a chance for a place at the 2012 Nations Cup finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Although he walked out on his job, moments after the Young Warriors bowed out of the African Under-23 Championships following a comprehensive 3-0 defeat by South Africa away, Pasuwa has not completely closed the door on the possibility of resuming his national duties.
But the coach and his handlers have maintained that ZIFA have to meet their side of the bargain and pay him for his services given that he has a family to feed and just like any other person, he also has other financial obligations to take care of.
That Pasuwa has not rushed to seal a deal for another job despite getting offers from local Premiership clubs, appears to have also given ZIFA a window of hope that they could yet get their man back.
There have also been rumours linking ZIFA with a bid to approach former Warriors captain Moses Chunga to take over the reins should they fail to thrash a deal with Pasuwa but Mashingaidze maintained that their indaba tomorrow was centred on resolving their problems with the incumbent senior team mentor.
ZIFA board member development John Phiri echoed Mashingaidze’s sentiments and maintained that their priority was on normalising their relationship with Pasuwa.
“The issue of the national coach is one of the main items on the agenda of our meeting. It is very crucial at this stage that we resolve this matter.
“In fact, by now we should have given Pasuwa a contract and we were confident that Government through the SRC was going to assist but it appears that government is heavily burdened and we are looking for other means to cater for our coach.
“There is a company that was in contact with the president (Cuthbert Dube) that is willing to come out and cater for the coach’s salary and take over responsibility of what will be in the contract including a car for his use so we should be getting that feedback at the Friday meeting.
“As a board we understand that we owe him and we have to make efforts to find the money to pay him. We need him and we cannot afford to lose him and I am sure something positive will come out on Friday.
“We would like Pasuwa to finish the work that he started and it is not like we are deliberately not paying him but we are broke as an association and we are running around to see that we pay for what we owe him and that he has a contract,” Phiri said.
Pasuwa has had to use personal resources including his own car and fuel to carry out national duties including having to ferry players out of Harare whenever they come into the capital for camp.
Despite having only received a letter of appointment that did not even specify his perks, Pasuwa sought to fulfil national duties first in the hope that ZIFA would also act in good faith and quickly come up with a contract.
And now that the board appears to be getting a lifeline to negotiate with the coach, the onus is firmly on Dube and his lieutenants to make decisions tomorrow that will not scupper the Warriors bid for a place at the 2017 Nations Cup in Gabon.
The Warriors have already shown their potential to do well in the qualifiers by registering a 2-1 win over Malawi in their opening game in Blantyre while their next opponents Guinea will be seeking a first win after losing by a similar margin to Swaziland in neutral Morocco.