Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa has thrown his weight behind the Warriors and dismissed the criticism which the senior national team has been facing in some sectors in the wake of their first round exit at the African Cup of Nations in Gabon.
Chiyangwa had seemingly taken a back seat and watched the drama unfold in the last few days that followed the end of the Warriors campaign in Gabon.
Callisto Pasuwa’s men fought a gallant 2-2 draw with Algeria before losing to Senegal (2-0) and Tunisia 4-2.
The Warriors’ failure to progress beyond the group stage forced their coach Pasuwa to announce his resignation, while skipper Willard Katsande also said he was calling time on his international career.
Some parliamentarians took to the House of Assembly to fire their criticism at the Warriors for their performance in Gabon as opinions remained largely divided as to whether Pasuwa and his men had really terribly failed the nation.
But on Thursday night, the Warriors and their coach received the backing of the most important man in national football — the ZIFA president — with Chiyangwa declaring that he was satisfied with the way the team had performed and gave them his thumbs up.
The Harare property mogul took to social media to circulate a video recording in which he gave the strongest hint that he would not accept Pasuwa’s resignation and neither was he contemplating firing him.
Chiyangwa also lauded the Mighty Warriors and their coach Shadreck Mlauzi as well the national Under-17 side that won gold at the African Sports Union Council Region 5 Games in Angola.
The ZIFA president said it was imperative that Zimbabweans took into account the tough economic environment under which his association and the national teams operated and it is against this background that he believes “qualification for the major tournaments was a huge success’’.
Crucially for Pasuwa and his troops he took to Gabon is the major show of confidence reposed in them by their ZIFA boss.
“The Warriors qualified and appeared at so many other competitions prior and appeared at AFCON and this all courtesy of a good coach in Pasuwa who is a very reliable coach and has done extremely well for Zimbabwe under difficult circumstances.
“Nobody can doubt that we have got serious economic problems that affect any planning.
“So to expect a miracle out of whatever has happened and what miracle has happened in fact is something else because of the leadership that is there at ZIFA led by myself.
“Thank you again Pasuwa. You did very well, you campaigned up to the Gabon championships and you were there and you showed the world that you are a good coach and we have good players and there is nothing to complain about, I am very happy with the way you played and I remain very happy and to this day I am just expressing my own personal opinion without having to bother about whose other opinions are there,’’ Chiyangwa said.
The ZIFA boss said he was aware of the varying opinions that have been flying around following the Warriors presence at the Nations Cup, but insisted he saw nothing wrong with the manner the senior team had acquitted themselves.
“Fellow Zimbabweans and football lovers I want to express my own satisfaction with the qualification and appearance at the AFCON 2017.
Chiyangwa also paid glowing tribute to the Government, mobile network services giants Netone and businessman Wicknell Chivhayo for the resources they provided which oiled the Warriors campaign.
“As Zimbabwe we were afforded the opportunity and support from Government and other players in the market during and towards the qualification to appear at the AFCON in Gabon.
“One of those things I want to say and express gratitude to is that support I got initially when I went into office during which time we were campaigning to qualify for the AFCON and that came from Wicknell Chivayo.
“That support was very critical in that as soon as I got into office, 30 days later we were supposed to pay Saintfiet (Tom), which particular payment was our qualification payment to participate in the 2022 World Cup (qualifiers) and that payment was effected by Wicknell Chivayo, thank you Wicknell and God Bless you.
“In the further campaigns we got assistance from many institutions notably the support that came from NetOne at the outset going to Guinea (for the final qualifier) that opportunity and Government as well . . . that opportunity to fly to Guinea only with one day remaining to go there,’’ Chiyangwa said.
NetOne have become ZIFA’s new all-weather friend with the mobile company also catering for the fans by sending some supporters to Gabon to cheer on the Warriors.
Chiyangwa also reckoned that his ZIFA leadership deserved to be lauded for their achievements in the short period they have been in office.
“A lot of Zimbabweans have been expressing opinions . . . things should have been like this, things should have been like that, there have been so many years when nothing was happening like what has happened.
“There is no year or years whether it was in Rhodesia or Zimbabwe that you can compare to my period in one year wherein things happened the way they did.
“I want to thank my councillors, the congress for giving me the leadership and supporting me throughout up to date and ensuring that whatever decisions I have embarked upon they have supported me.’’
Chiyangwa noted that it was not just the Warriors’ success story that deserved to be celebrated with the flamboyant businessman also touching on the achievements of the Mighty Warriors and the Young Warriors.
“The women qualified as you know and they went to the Olympics, they did very well, they came here went through the difficulties that are there in Africa, playing so many African good teams to qualify and they qualified as you know many good African teams did not and there were in Brazil for the Olympics just the two teams (African), just us and South Africa.
“A big pam pam for my girls and their coach Mlauzi, Mlauzi continues to be very much a coach who can be relied upon,’’ Chiyangwa said.
“I am also an individual who has an opinion, I am happy with Pasuwa , I am happy with the boys, I am happy with the Mighty Warriors and I am happy with Under-17 that won the intercontinental title . . . come on man what a year.
“And within the year, I then became COSAFA president leading 14 countries and courtesy of the support of my congress,’’ Chiyangwa said.
Chiyangwa’s overtures also confirm indications that ZIFA will persuade Pasuwa to stay on in charge of the Warriors dressing room when they meet with the 46-year-old coach.
Article Source: The Herald