Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
FORMER Zimbabwe international Callisto Pasuwa’s coaching credentials continued to gain momentum in the region after he led Malawian football side Nyasa Big Bullets in defence of the TNM Super League title yesterday in a trailblazing career that has now seen him rake up six straight league crowns for himself.
Pasuwa wrapped up a wonderful Christmas story with a second league title on the bounce on the same weekend that compatriot Norman Mapeza also demonstrated the clout possessed by Zimbabwean coaches as he continued with his blazing form in the South African Absa Premiership with Chippa United.
The former Dynamos player and coach was on could nine after he successfully defended the Malawi Super League title ahead of bitter rivals Be Forward Wanderers on the last day of the campaign.
The latest success meant Pasuwa has added to the four straight titles that he won during his days at Dynamos between 2011 and 2014.
Bullets were crowned champions following a 2-0 home win over TN Stars. Peter Banda and Hassan Kajoke gave them the goals that ensured another successful season and another chance to play in the CAF Champions League next year.
Bullets have established themselves as the most successful club in Malawi, wrapping up their 14th league title overall and a fourth in the last six years.
They needed a straight win to confirm their championship status and Banda gave them the best start possible with a right-footed shot inside the penalty box after only seven minutes of play.
Kajoke then doubled the lead with a fantastic finish inside the penalty box, assisted by Chimwemwe Idana with two minutes left before the half time whistle.
Pasuwa won his first title with the club last year after joining them late in the season.
And as if to demonstrate that his success was no fluke he managed to repeat the feat after his side reached 70 points, four ahead of second placed Be Forward Wanderers, who were also scheduled to play their last game of the season yesterday.
However, his contract is set to expire at the end of this month and it is not yet clear whether the club will be able to tie him down in light of the growing demand for his services.
“It is no doubt a feel-good moment for Pasuwa who has proved that his title with Bullets in the maiden season was not a fluke. With two league titles in the bag, Pasuwa has joined an elite league of celebrated Bullets coaches.
“Bullets have not yet commented on his contract but if indeed it runs out this month, the Malawi champions will try all they can to keep him.
“It won’t be easy as the championship has upped his bargaining power and he would obviously be a man in demand but I get a sense Bullets will try to tie him down to a long term deal so that he sees this project through to its conclusion.
“Bullets board must now be thinking about making the team a strong competitor in Africa,” said Malawian journalist Peter Kanjere.
Former Zimbabwe international Mapeza also penned a good Christmas story for himself in South Africa where he has been enjoying imperious form with Chippa United.
Many people had doubted he would survive this long after he took up the most volatile coaching job in the South African Absa Premiership by joining Chippa United two months ago.
The story line, however, has changed in a big way after the former Zimbabwe international managed to turn around the fortunes of the struggling club.
Mapeza and the Chilli Boys family led by club owner Siviwe “Chippa” Mpengesi are set to have one of their best festive holidays after the side beat giants Supersport United 1-0 on Saturday to steer clear of relegation.
There was unrestrained joy at their Nelson Mandela Bay home ground after Mapeza outwitted fellow Zimbabwean Kaitano Tembo, who is the coach of Supersport, to go for the Christmas break on a high.
“Thanks for last night,” the club posted on their Twitter account yesterday.
“And if you’re reading this, all us at Chippa United Football Club love you! Whatever situation you’re currently in, it will get better! Let’s have a great festive season & help as many as we can! Mostly importantly be safe at all times. #HappyHolidays.”
Chippa United were sitting at the bottom of the table, win-less, when Mapeza joined them in October. But they ended the year on a high, having gone five matches without conceding a goal for the first time in the club’s history in Mzansi’s top-flight.
Their 1-0 win over Supersport underlined the remarkable transformation the club has experienced since Mapeza joined them two months back.
The Chilli Boys went for the Christmas break with probably the best run of form in the Premiership after winning four and drawing one in their last five matches.
Most importantly, they have moved three points clear of the relegation drop zone and it all happening in a period of eight weeks.
Mapeza is leading them on their longest unbeaten run since May 2018. Four wins and a draw in his seven league games in charge is not a small feat. They have been so mean they kept five clean sheets in a row.
“The guys have been working very hard ever since I came here. I think it’s two months now, the guys have been working and I am happy with the responses, the attitude and the desire to work.
“Everybody can see we are getting the results now. I think I said it in our first four matches that look, there are positives despite us losing those games. But you could tell that it was just a matter of time.
“We need to look for about two strikers. It doesn’t matter where they would come from but definitely not foreigners because our quota is already full.
“So we will look around maybe in the lower divisions. If we can find someone who can give us what we are looking for then we will go for it,” said Mapeza.