Zimbabwe Saints have defended their decision to fire Agent Sawu saying it was a move aimed at curbing divisions in the technical team which had created camps within the players and was affecting the team’s performance.
Board of directors’ secretary Sakhiwe Ndlovu said he had been brought to the fore at the club as players’ welfare manager and upon investigations discovered that members of the technical team had their “own players” whom they wanted to play in the first eleven thereby dividing the team.
He said he conducted interviews with individual players and discovered that Sawu, the then assistant coach and head coach Willard Mashinkila-Khumalo, who has been placed on compassionate leave due to ill-health, favoured certain players thereby sidelining others.
“Sawu had his own boys, Khumalo had his own boys. There was division between the coaching department.
“There were certain players from Harare who were being sidelined because they were not wanted by either of the two groups. They would attend training, but they would not be included in the team,” he said.
“Players like Leo Kurauzvione were not getting any playtime. The coaches would say the players were injured so that they could justify why the players were not making it into the team,” he said.
Ndlovu revealed that efforts to solve the problems had hit a brick wall as Khumalo and Sawu barred the executive from meeting the players.
“Before we played Highlanders, stakeholders wanted to talk to the players about the problems in the team, but the coaches resisted. They said we could not talk to the players without their presence. They fielded players who had not trained with the team and they never played well,” he said.
Ndlovu said they wanted Khumalo and Sawu to sit on the terraces and leave Edmore Sibanda and Jonathan Chikaponya in charge as the latter would be impartial in the team’s selection during the league match against Highlanders.
He also dismissed assertions that financial problems were bedevilling the club although he admitted that the club owed some players money.
On Wednesday, Sawu attended the team’s training session at White City Stadium saying he was attending to his normal duties as he had only read about his dismissal in the press. Sawu was still to get the letter notifying him of his dismissal.
However, Ndlovu refuted the claims by Sawu that he got wind of his dismissal through the press.
“We had a lengthy executive meeting which lasted for two hours on Tuesday. We told Sawu during that meeting that he had been relieved of his duties because of the divisions in the technical team. He is going to receive his dismissal letter today (yesterday),” he said.
The Zimbabwe Saints board secretary was however unequivocal about Mashinkila-Khumalo’s status reiterating that the head coach was on compassionate leave and he was still at Chikwata.
Ndlovu dismissed talk that the problems at Saints emanated from bad blood between the new and old guard in the leadership saying both were working together towards the success of the club.
“There are no boardroom squabbles in the team. We are working together as we want to rebuild Zimbabwe Saints. The problem has been more on the technical side,” he said.
He said some of the players who were reported to be leaving the club were doing so because of their exclusion from the team, but said they would meet all the players so as to discuss their future in the club and map the way forward. Ndlovu said those who wanted to leave the club would be cleared.