Instead of being feted like a king, for ending the Warriors’ 10-year wait for a Nations Cup appearance, Callisto Pasuwa’s name is being dragged in the mud amid an explosion of fresh allegations that his selection process is heavily influenced by his manager, Gibson Mahachi. By Robson Sharuko
The 46-year-old gaffer was the only coach of a Southern African nation to guide his team to success to the 2017 Nations Cup finals with his Warriors topping their group, for the first time in the country’s history, qualifying with a game to spare and completing their mission with a three-point cushion over their nearest rivals.
From the depths of crashing out in the first round of the preliminaries, set aside for the continent’s football lightweights, in the qualifiers for the 2015 Nations Cup finals after losing to Tanzania, Pasuwa arrived to take over a Warriors’ side low on confidence and transformed them into a side that only lost once — when qualification had been secured — for the 2017 AFCON finals.
Pasuwa’s troops, who took part in the 2017 Nations Cup qualifiers, also became the first group of Warriors — since Sunday Chidzambwa and his men sealed the country’s first appearance at the AFCON finals in 2003 — to lose just one game during the qualifying process.
But the coach, instead of basking in the glow of his achievements now that the qualifying marathon has ended, finds himself being hounded by questions related to his selection process with former Warriors’ keeper, Tapuwa Kapini, lighting the blue touch paper when he claimed Mahachi has a huge influence in who wears the senior national team jersey.
Kapini has also questioned why a goalkeeper like Petros Mhari, the FC Platinum goalminder, was not being rewarded for his performance with a call-up into the Warriors.
There have since been claims that eight of the players who travelled to Conakry for that final qualifier, where the Warriors produced a poor first half show before finding their feet in the second half, belong to Mahachi’s stable.
The eight players are goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva, who played five of the six 2017 Nations Cup matches, rightback Blessing Moyo, who had a poor first half show in Guinea, Tafadzwa Kutinyu, who was anonymous in midfield, Lawrence Mhlanga, given a place in central defence to partner Costa Nhamoinesu and Evans Rusike, who was played on the flanks where he couldn’t impose himself.
Tendai Ndoro, who came in as a substitute in the second half and failed to sparkle, Teenage Hadebe and Godknows Murwira are the other three players who have been named as being part of Mahachi’s stable.
Yesterday Mahachi said he wasn’t interested in providing the oxygen of publicity to the saga by plunging into a confrontation with those who were making the allegations against him, and Pasuwa, but felt that it was unfortunate that a nation that should be celebrating its success story was now being torn by “petty arguments”.
“My feeling is that, maybe, we have failed to succeed so much we have become accustomed to failure, and the negative debates that follow our failed campaign, we don’t know how to celebrate when we have succeeded,” Mahachi told The Herald.
“I believe that as someone who works in the public domain, when it comes to football, I am open to scrutiny but such scrutiny should be based on facts and not just gossip as is the case right now.
“Pasuwa is a professional coach whose future can only be guaranteed by success on the field and he makes his decisions, as an independent individual, and I have no role to play in who is selected or not.
“I just manage his affairs and there is a big difference between managing him and influencing him because he is the specialist, when it comes to coaching, and my job is to manage his affairs and not the affairs of the Warriors or any other team.
“What surprises me is why the agents of the players who are now being said to belong to my stable are quiet about all this when they should be coming out to tell the country that they are the ones who manage these players.
“It’s interesting that when we do well, as was the case when we won the two games that sealed our place in Gabon, scoring seven goals and conceding none, all these issues are not brought up but when we just lose one game all hell breaks loose.”
Mahachi said while he was given a mandate by Chicken Inn to look for opportunities for their players, it did not mean that he was the agent of those players and all that he was doing was to try and facilitate moves for them.
Of the eight named players, said Mahachi, only two players — Mukuruva and Hadebe — signed contracts with him to be their manager and, given how Mukuruva has stood tall in the Warriors’ goal during the 2017 Nations Cup qualifiers, he could not understand how his selection into the team was now being questioned.
Mukuruva played in five of the six 2017 Nations Cup qualifiers for the Warriors, conceding three goals in 450 minutes, at an average of a goal every two-and-half hours which, at this level of the game, should be considered a success, especially for such a young player.
He was the man-of-the-match in Malawi where the Warriors’2-1 win in Blantyre set the tone for this successful Nations Cup campaign.
While Mahachi had a contract with Ndoro when the player was still plying his trade in this country, signed in 2013, it lapsed last year and the duo fell out when the Orlando Pirates’ striker signed South African agent Karabo Thabang of P Management.
Mahachi said if he had any influence in the selection of the Warriors, as some are claiming, why then was Pasuwa picking Ndoro for the Warriors given the fallout between the player and the agent who
claimed the striker breached a contract he signed with him when he joined Thabang’s P Management.
Rusike, the other player who was said to belong to Mahachi’s stable, had his move to South Africa handled by Edzai Kasinauyo, who was also the agent who facilitated Ronald Chitiyo’s trials in South Africa.
Reserve ‘keeper Bernard is managed by the Aces Youth Academy while Blessing Moyo’s manager is an agent known as Mugoni.
Mahachi also dismissed claims that he manages the affairs of Murwira and said he had an agreement with Chicken Inn and not Kutinyu and Mhlanga. The Herald