Pasuwa – the Old Fellow Out

The decision by the Dynamos leadership to fire coach Lloyd Mutasa has inevitably cast the spotlight again on Callisto Pasuwa, whose shadow has been hanging over the domestic Premiership since he left his job as the Warriors gaffer at the end of the 2017 Nations Cup finals.

Pasuwa has in the past revealed he is not interested in returning to his boyhood club, where he starred both as a player and coach, leading the Glamour Boys to four successive league titles between 2011 and 2014 after having been recruited on a firefighting exercise.

But with DeMbare once again in turmoil, sitting only three points better off than the bottom club, having only nine points from a possible 30, Mutasa’s dismissal – via the old move of elimination by promotion – has opened another window of opportunity for Pasuwa.

The former Warriors coach was heavily tipped to take over at an ambitious Zambian top-flight club Buildcon FC after the Ndola side fired their European coach this season, but a reunion with some of his former players could not happen after the club settled for a local coach.

Pasuwa said he has been recharging his batteries, watching the madness from a distance and has been enjoying his break from the game, which has seen him spending time helping some youth footballers at a friend’s academy in Cape Town, South Africa.

But Pasuwa is back home and that inevitably comes with a lot of speculation about his next move, even though the official line from his camp will be that he is not interested with another plunge back into the Premiership, especially when some high-profile jobs become available.

He is currently working as part of the coaches involved in the Shield-Chelsea campaign, an innovative football talent search programme, which will see 30 players vying for a ticket into the Africa XI squad to face the Chelsea Legends in September.

The campaign is a result of a partnership between Shield, a Unilever brand, and former English champions Chelsea and is targeting both male and female players between the age of 18 and 25 who are not attached to any professional league.

“I would say, maybe, it’s not only those players playing in the Premier League who have got the talent,” Pasuwa said at the launch of the partnership.

“There is also talent in the rural areas, there is also talent in some remote areas where one cannot get the chance of coming to play for Dynamos, to play for FC Platinum and these Premier League sides.”

Interestingly, Pasuwa is the only one among the four African football coaches who were in charge of their countries at the 2017 Nations Cup finals in Gabon without a substantive high-profile job.

The other three – Florent Ibenge of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Aliou Cisse of Senegal and Baciro Cande of Guinea Bissau – are still in their national team jobs.

Cisse has even managed to attain legendary status in his West African country after he became the first Senegalese coach to guide the Lions of Teranga to the FIFA World Cup by qualifying for the globe’s biggest football showcase in Russia next month.

It’s the first time the Senegalese are returning to the World Cup since they made their debut at the 2002 AFCON finals in South Korea and Japan and they went all the way to the quarter-finals before losing to Turkey through a sudden death goal.

Ibenge, who led the Congolese to third place at the 2015 AFCON and the quarter-finals in Gabon while also guiding his country to success at the CHAN finals in Rwanda, has been doing dual roles as coach of the national team and the nation’s biggest football club, AS Vita. He told the Congolese football leaders he intends to leave his role with the national team this year.

However, the Confederation of African Football have been investing heavily into him and he was one of the elite coaches – including Mamelodi Sundowns’ gaffer Pitso Mosimane and three-time African champion Hassan Shehata of Egypt – who were invited for the inaugural CAF Pro Licence course in Rabat, Morocco, this year.

“It was a huge privilege. I am humbled by it. CAF invited four coaches, Florent Ibenge — the DRC and AS Vita coach.

“Coach Hassan Shehata, what a legend, back-to-back winner of the Cup of Nations winner with Egypt,” Mosimane told the Sundowns official website.

“It’s unbelievable. He was talking to me about the Egypt team he came with here (in South Africa) for the (2009) FIFA Confederations Cup.

“He says the team he had was the best ever.

“What a humble guy with a lot of experience.

“Ibenge won the Chan with DRC and is doing well with AS Vita. For a local coach to coach big stars in Europe isn’t easy.

“It’s the same with Aliou Cisse.”

Cande, the 70-year-old who guided Guinea Bissau to their first appearance at the AFCON finals last year, is still in his job as coach of his national team.

Guinea-Bissau shocked the continent when they edged Zambia 3-2 in a qualifier and their success story to just qualify for the 2017 AFCON finals, given they don’t have a functional professional league in their country, and have always been beset by financial challenges, was celebrated as a landmark triumph.

“Guinea-Bissau qualifying for AFCON today is an incredible story,” John Bennett, the BB sports reporter and presenter for the BBC World Service, tweeted.

“Never been inside FIFA top 100, no pro league and huge financial problems.”

The West Africans, just like the Warriors, ended their 2017 AFCON campaign with just a point to their credit.

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