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ZIMBABWE’S preparations for the start of the 2017 African Cup of Nations were thrown into turmoil last night after troubled ZIFA plunged into a fresh crisis with national coach Callisto Pasuwa declining to name his squad following an impasse with his employers.

The Warriors are expected to face the Flames of Malawi in their opening Nations Cup Group L assignment at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on Saturday.

But by last night, there had been no official squad list from ZIFA as they were understood to be making frantic efforts to come to an agreement with Pasuwa through his management team and entice the coach to resume duties and take charge of the side that will travel to Malawi.

In contrast, the Flames were engaging North African giants Egypt in a friendly at Borg Al Arab Stadium in Alexandria last night as part of their ongoing preparations, which started well ahead of the COSAFA Cup last month.

In fact, the Flames have been in camp for nearly a month with such players as CAPS United midfielder Gerald Phiri even electing to remain with his national team after inspiring them to a Plate final triumph at the COSAFA Cup staged in South Africa.

But for the Warriors, all was in limbo by last night with no indication yet on which players would go into camp ahead of the trip to Malawi as ZIFA and the coach had still not ironed out their differences.

Although he has managed to grind out results, Pasuwa has endured a frustrating period since he took over as both national Under-23 and senior team coach with the former Dynamos mentor going unpaid for his national service.

Pasuwa’s Young Warriors have battled to get local clubs to release players for duty, while paltry resources have also left the side barely resembling a national team.

While he may have been soldiering on in very difficult circumstances over the last few months, it is understood that matters came to a head after Pasuwa returned from Swaziland with the Young Warriors and failed to receive attention from the ZIFA officials despite pleas for an urgent meeting.

The former Dynamos mentor could not be reached for comment yesterday, but his manager Gibson Mahachi, who met with ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze at the weekend, insisted that they wanted some sticking issues between the coach and ZIFA 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.

“After meeting with Mashingaidze he said they would also meet with the president (Cuthbert Dube) and his committee. We are not being difficult, we are just being realistic because Pasuwa is a family man and he has been making a lot of sacrifices hoping that they could meet their side of the bargain.

“Already in terms of preparations we are very much behind, in fact we are nowhere because the game is on Saturday. My fear is that maybe the president is not being told the truth about the situation on the ground but we have a crisis.

“Basically the ball is in their court they know what is needed to be done for us to talk,” Mahachi said.

It, however, emerged that the Warriors coach was also hoping to capitalise on the presence of the foreign-based professionals who are already in the country for their off-season break to blend them with some of their local colleagues for the showdown with Malawi.

Group L action will begin on Friday night when Guinea host Swaziland on neutral soil at the Complexe Mohammed V stadium in Casablanca, Morocco and that the West African giants are having to play on neutral soil should have been a blessing in disguise for the Warriors, only if there was order in the Zimbabwe camp.

But there is no doubting that for this weekend, local fans will shift their attention to the Warriors on Saturday in a game that is also set to be beamed live on SuperSport.

With the chaos currently rocking their camp, their Warriors will no doubt have their work cut out against a Flames side that has been putting everything in trying to make a g campaign for a place at the 2017 Nations Cup in Gabon.

Pasuwa has previously warned about the need to have adequate preparations arguing that “in football you tend to play the way you would have prepared”.

Warriors’ history-making former coach Sunday Chidzambwa and legendary former Zimbabwe captain Peter Ndlovu have in the last two months also spoken passionately about the need to have the senior team prepare well if Zimbabwe are entertaining hopes of making it to the continental soccer jamboree.

And even if a deal was to be struck between ZIFA and Pasuwa, it will now be difficult for the coach to also call on those professionals such as in-form striker Nyasha Mushwekwi who is at his Swedish base.

Even if Pasuwa’s deal had been struck at the weekend it would also have been too late to get a host of players who include Danish-based Silas Songani and England-based McCauley Bonne in time for the trip to Blantyre.

Yet in contrast Flames coach Young Chimidzi will have the luxury of getting all his players including veterans Joseph Kamwendo and Esau Kanyenda for the important tie.

Source : The Herald