Zimbabwe Warriors are facing a race against time to kick-start preparations for Saturday’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations’ opening qualifier against the Flames. This follows an impasse between coach Callisto Pasuwa and the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) over unpaid dues, coupled with financial constraints.
However, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu yesterday downplayed the issue, saying Zimbabwe could be playing mind games.
One of Zimbabwe’s leading newspapers, The Herald, yesterday reported that Pasuwa declined to name his squad following an impasse with his employers with just three days before the Group L encounter scheduled for Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
As of yesterday, Zifa were reportedly making efforts to come to an agreement with Pasuwa through his management team to entice him to resume duties and take charge of the squad for the match.
The Herald reported that Pasuwa’s manager, Gibson Mahachi, who met with Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze at the weekend, insisted that they wanted some sticky issues between the coach and the Zimbabwe FA to be ironed out first.
Mahachi said Pasuwa had been depending on his personal resources and the assistance from team manager Shariff Mussa, but “the handouts have run out now and can no longer afford to continue to work in an environment where there are no resources and where he has not been paid for his services’’.
“We are yet to agree with Zifa on what they owe the coach. They are already in default because they have not paid him a cent for the period he has worked. He is still to be offered a contract and all he has is a letter of appointment.
“So, we gave them conditions and they have to show some commitment and pay out something. Basically the ball is in their court they know what is needed to be done for us to talk,” Mahachi was quoted as having said.
However, Zifa media officer Xolisani Gwesela yesterday warned that the Flames should not read much into their woes.
“We have challenges yes, but don’t read much into the issue. We are coming there with full force.
“We have some logistical challenges, but we are in the process of sorting them out and, hopefully, by close of business today we should release the squad which will face Malawi,” said Gwesela in a telephone interview from Zimbabwe.
Reacting to the development, Nyamilandu said: “We cannot afford to toy around with the idea of getting carried away with that. This could be a mind game. They just want to divert our attention from the preparations and it could prove suicidal.”
The Flames are ranked 95th on Fifa Coca Cola world rankings while the Warriors are on position 119.
The last time the two teams met was in March last year in an international friendly match at Kamuzu Stadium and Zimbabwe won 4-1.