ZIFA have leapt to the defence of Under-23 national football team coach Kalisto Pasuwa after he chose club over country when he failed to travel with the national side to Swaziland on Monday for an international friendly against the hosts.
That decision by Pasuwa, who also coaches domestic champions Dynamos, had been seen as tantamount to snubbing national duty.
It was the second time Pasuwa missed a national assignment after he also did not make the trip to Botswana for another international friendly last month as he was in Egypt attending the Fifa technical conference to review the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The Young Warriors head coach left the team in the hands of his assistants ZPC Kariba coach Saul Chaminuka and Hwange coach Nation Dube.
Zimbabwe, who were using the friendly matches as part of preparations for the Under-23 African Championship qualifiers to be staged in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as the All-Africa Games qualifiers, suffered a 1-0 defeat to Botswana.
Pasuwa then missed the Monday trip to Swaziland on the grounds that he could not leave his club in the hands of goalkeepers’ coach Tichaona Diya as his assistant at Dynamos — Philemon Mutyakureva is attending a Caf B licence course in Bulawayo.
Pasuwa, who had led his charges to an important 1-0 victory over Buffaloes in Mutare on Sunday which helped them consolidate their place at the top of Castle Lager Premier Soccer League log table was preparing for the weekend clash against Chapungu at Rufaro.
However, it later emerged during the week that there would be no league matches this weekend as the league programme makes way for the Chibuku Super Cup semi-finals pitting Highlanders against Harare City and FC Platinum versus Black Rhinos at Rufaro on Saturday and Sunday.
And Pasuwa, who had also questioned the wisdom of playing a friendly match against Swaziland, who will be their opponents in the African Championship qualifiers and the All-Africa Games was seen as having snubbed national duty following his failure to travel with the rest of the team.
But Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said they had accepted Pasuwa’s request to be excused for this match before there were changes to the league fixtures.
He, however, said they hoped Pasuwa would commit himself to the Young Warriors’ future assignments.
“When Pasuwa requested us to excuse him for this match, based on the fact there would be no one to take charge of the team in his absence, we understood his concern and granted him his wish. But then there were changes to the league fixtures later, so we don’t think he snubbed duty. But we hope in future he will commit himself to the Under-23 assignments,” Gwesela said.
Ironically, Dynamos are currently in a tight race with Chaminuka’s ZPC Kariba with only two points separating the two teams with five games remaining. Dynamos lead the standings with 49 points with ZPC Kariba on 47.
Bitter city rivals Caps United, four points off the pace are also very much in the race.
Highlanders on 39 points also still have interests in the championship despite their recent 4-0 mauling at the hands of the Caps United.