20 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Pasuwa Revels in Glory

DYNAMOS coach Callisto Pasuwa, basking in the glory of his best Premiership title to date, has attributed their success story to unity, discipline and stability at the club but revealed he was surprised by the tough challenge they received from bitter rivals Highlanders. After surviving an in-house storm, in which he was on the verge of being fired in June following Dynamos' 7-1 humiliation by Esperance in the Champions League and a surprise 1- 0 defeat by Harare City in the league, Pasuwa repaid those who showed faith in him by calmly guiding the Harare giants to one of their sweetest and yet toughest Premiership title in nearly two decades.

It was not surprisingly that the former Warriors and Dynamos midfielder dedicated the championship to his chairman Kenny Mubaiwa who he said led the way in "standing by me despite pressure from those who wanted me out". Mubaiwa now joins the late Morrison Sifelani as one of the most successful DeMbare bosses after leading the club to back-to-back league titles.

An assuming yet tough character, Pasuwa also paid tribute to his players for being "a united and disciplined group" that maintained focus on the job at hand.

"It is not every year that you complete a season at Dynamos without hearing stories of players boycotting training for unpaid salaries or outstanding bonuses and allowances.

"But this year we have not had one single day when the players refused to train because they had not been paid their dues.

"Even though we have not been paid our winning bonuses for the Charity Shield I told these players to just keep their focus and soldier on and I am glad that they listened and here we are, we are champions again.

"I am also very proud of these boys because for a team to win the championship and score all but one goal from open play speaks volumes about their quality," Pasuwa said.

Pasuwa said he had been surprised to note that there were some people calling for his head midway through the season yet Dynamos had never fallen far behind in the championship race even though bitter rivals Highlanders and early pacesetters Shabanie Mine led the log standings for long periods in the opening half of the marathon.

Those calls cast a cloud of uncertainty about his future at the club that had also cast doubts about handing him a contract for the 2012 season claiming that he had upped his demands.

"People doubted us as a technical department and maybe if it was not because the chairman stood by us those people really wanted us out and by now I could have been following the remainder of the championship either from home or from somewhere else.

"The fact that we played in the Champions League as well as in every competition locally meant that we were the team that played the highest number of games and when you play a lot of games you are bound to be affected by injuries, suspensions and general fatigue but these youngsters are fighters and they soldiered on.

"I think I was very fortunate to work with such a united bunch of players. It must be remembered that we lost two very influential players, Takesure Chinyama and Washington Arubi and there was a time when didn't have Denver Mukamba because he had gone for trials so it was always going to be difficult to maintain consistency.

"Thumbs up to the chairman of the club because he understood our plight and decided to stand with us in those tough times even on the occasions when we struggled for funds to pay for our training ground," Pasuwa said.

The Dynamos coach also revealed that he had not anticipated "such a tough fight from Highlanders".

"To be honest when the season started, I had expected FC Platinum to give us another tough run in the championship race because of the material they had and the fact that they were well funded and had finished the previous season strongly.

"Highlanders were rebuilding and I didn't think they could do so well to take the battle to the wire".

Despite having piped Bosso on goal difference after both giants finished with 69 points, Pasuwa is adamant that had DeMbare not rocked their own boat in mid-year, the Glamour Boys could have wrapped up the title much earlier than the final day of the season.

"I think if it was not for the problems that we encountered when we were being given ultimatums and had to rely on the chairman and the secretary-general (Raymond Kazembe) to know if we would be there the next day, we could have done better and collected maximum points and win the league title with some games to spare.

"So I think going forward all the Dynamos stakeholders should just have to respect and support the man who would have been given the coaching job at that time and not try and influence the executive to rush into firing someone after just one or two defeats".

Pasuwa also hit back at former Dynamos coach Elvis "Chuchu;" Chiweshe who took aim at him on June 22 and claimed that Dynamos were struggling at that time because they lacked a leader on the technical bench.

Chiweshe claimed that Pasuwa was "too raw to write a long term success story at Dynamos and urgently needed a helping hand with the former Gaborone United mentor even suggesting that the DeMbare management should have hired David Mandigora or Moses Chunga to come and take charge.

Pasuwa said although he had not responded at the time as he wanted his team to remain focused, he had been shocked by Chiweshe's utterances and somewhat feels the man who wanted him demoted to an assistant had "eaten humble pie".

"I was very saddened by what Elvis said because I thought being a senior guy and an elder brother to me he should have come to me and pointed out any weaknesses he had detected rather than just attack me and claim that I was too young to coach Dynamos.

"In contrast when I was under a lot of pressure and some people wanted me out, there were some people like Taurai Mangwiro who sent me messages of support and urged me to keep working hard.

"Some senior players like Murape Murape and Desmond Maringwa also came to me and said mudhara zvinowanikwa zvinhu zvakadai but if we keep united and work even harder zvinoita chete . . . that was very touching and encouraging.

"Those senior players also helped in talking to the youngsters and stressing the importance of playing for Dynamos and explaining to them what sort of pressures they had to expect at the club".

But for all the glory of winning the Premiership title, Pasuwa said it was imperative that Dynamos immediately got their Champions League preparations underway arguing that teams like Tunisian giants Esperance and African champions Al Ahly pull all the stops to "always be ready".

"Despite losing to Al Ahly in the Champions League final over the weekend, you will find that Esperance have already started planning for next year's tournament and that shows how serious they are.

"That is what we should have started doing the moment it became clear that the worst position we would finish on was second place," Pasuwa said.

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