Chiyangwa turns Zim soccer turned into circus

ZIM’s football crisis continues as the newly elected football administrators bungle sackings and appointments, which they have reversed in a comimical fashion likened to a circus.

With Zimbabwe expelled from the 2018 World Cup qualifying for failing to pay former coach Jose Claudinei Georgini, the administrative bloopers could not have been expected to get worse – but they did.

The newly elected Zimbabwe Football Authority (Zifa) board has in the last few days had fans laughing out loud afer firing national coach Kalisto Pasuwa – who has gone for months without pay – only to reinstate him two days later. Reports suggest that none of the other coaches approched by Zifa wanted the thankless job.

Broke and in disarray Zifa has made its second major climbdown since maverick businessman Philip Chiyangwa won elections three weeks ago to lead the football governing body. The new board was appointed on December 5.

Chiyangwa, believed by many to be related to President Robert Mugabe, is the new president, deputised by Omega Sibanda, who previously served in the same capacity before he was forced out of the association by the old board.

Zifa’s financial woes are well documented. In recent months the organisation has relied on donors to fund national team travelling costs. Observers had hoped the flamboyant Chiyangwa would improve the organisations finances, but lately the businessmen has been embroiled in messy legal wangles of his own.

Chiyangwa stands to lose his Borrowdale mansion after the now-defunct Interfin Bank this month obtained a writ of execution against him to recover more than US$4 million in debts.

Just after taking office, the Chiyangwa-led board sacked Premier Soccer League (PSL) chairman Twine Phiri, only for the latter to bounce back after Caps United Football Club ‑ a club Phiri used to be majority shareholder ‑ insisted they were seconding him to represent the club on the PSL board of governors, a situation that forced Zifa to reconsider their decision.

Last week, PSL secretary-general Kenny Ndebele said only the clubs could recall their chairman and explained that a governor was not necessarily supposed to be a club president or chairman, despite that the PSL constitution is clear on its position that a governor will either be a club chairman or deputy.

Then on Thursday the circus continued after Zifa sacked national team coach Pasuwa and the entire technical team.

“At an extraordinary meeting of the Zifa national executive committee on December 17, 2015, at Harare, it was resolved that the entire technical team for the men’s national team headed by Mr Kalisto Pasuwa be relieved of its duties,” said the letter from the football authority.

Zimbabwe is taking part in the 2016 Chan tournament, and 2017 African Cup of Nations.

“The national team camp is hereby dissolved with immediate effect and new camp dates will be announced in due course.”

Zifa said Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas, who led his team’s charges to this year’s PSL title, would take over as the new head coach, assisted by Dynamos coach Tonderai Ndiraya and Mandla Mpofu, while Peter Nkomo would become the goalkeepers’ coach.
Wellington Mpandare was appointed national team manager, taking over from Sharif Mussa.

The major surprise is that Zifa’s appointments for national team coaches were made without consulting the subjects.
Antipas has since declined the new offer to lead the Warriors on an interim basis. His club, Chicken Inn, have said neither them nor Antipas were approached on the matter.

Ndiraya, on the other hand, has also turned down the offer, saying by accepting, it would be “betrayal for his former teammate and the entire nation at large”.

He said he was busy preparing for the Unity Cup to be played Tuesday against fierce rivals Highlanders.

After the dissolution of the technical department, Sibanda issued another statement saying the national football call-up was a privilege, “which no patriotic Zimbabwean can turn down”.

“The association will continue to extend invitations to players and coaches eligible to do duty for Zimbabwe. The PSL is endowed with highly qualified technical personnel boasting of CAF [Confederation of African Football] … At no time the association allows players and the technical officials to hold the nation at ransom over allowances,” Sibanda said.

But then government has intervened in the affairs, with Sport and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane saying he had learnt “with shock” the news of Pasuwa and the entire technical department’s firing.

“… as minister of sport and recreation, I have asked Dr Philip Chiyangwa, the president of Zifa, to come out of his leave in order to attend to this potentially crippling and rather unnecessary dispute,” Hlongwane said Friday.

The following day, Chiyangwa said he had met with Sibanda and all members of the executive committee and they had agreed to immediately reinstate Pasuwa and the entire technical department.

“Differences are normal in any institution, but it is imperative to solve them in an amicable manner. Pasuwa is a very successful coach and undeniably one of the highly qualified coaches in the country,” Chiyangwa said.

“The association will inevitably render him necessary support at he prepares for the 2016 CHAN finals.” – ANA