HARARE – Warriors coach Kalisto Pasuwa, who is basking in the glory of guiding Zimbabwe to their first Africa Cup of Nations finals in 10 years, has paid tribute to Sunday Chidzambwa.
Chidzambwa guided the Warriors to their first-ever appearance at the 2004 Afcon finals in Tunisia.
Charles Mhlauri followed in Chidzambwa’s footsteps and led the Warriors to the 2006 Afcon finals in Egypt.
But since then, Zimbabwe had suffered a lot of near-misses as the team failed to qualify for five Afcon finals on the trot.
However, all those years of underachievement came to an end on Sunday, when Pasuwa’s side beat Malawi 3-0 at the National Sports Stadium to qualify for next year’s finals to be held in Gabon.
The Warriors now have an unassailable lead at the top of Group L ahead of second-placed Swaziland and Guinea, who are in third place.
In his time of glory, Pasuwa chose to look back and pay tribute to the influence of Chidzambwa on his career.
Pasuwa described the ZPC Kariba coach a “mentor, brother and father” for helping shape both his playing and coaching career.
“He (Chidzambwa) is a brother, a father and a mentor to me when it comes to my football career. Whenever I needed any advice he is the person I go to and so far, he has been very helpful to me in terms of his sound advice, comments and contribution to my career.
“When I talk of being in football, it was him (Chidzambwa). I have been always running away from football. I didn’t want anything to do with football but it was Sunday who encouraged me all the way.
“Even today, it was him who encouraged me to start coaching. Like I said, I never do anything in my coaching career without first consulting him. He gave me a few tips on how to coach a national team and how I can succeed and I think so far so good.”
Pasuwa made his name at Harare giants Dynamos and after hanging up his boots, Pasuwa moved into coaching and finally struck the jackpot when he was appointed DeMbare coach in 2011.
The 45-year-old led DeMbare to a record four consecutive league titles between 2011 and 2014.
Pasuwa’s success with the Glamour Boys eventually landed him the Warriors job.
And that success he enjoyed at the Harare giants seems to have followed him to the national team.
This is the first time the Warriors have qualified for the Afcon finals as group leaders. In 2004 and 2006, Zimbabwe had to sneak in via the back door as one of the best-placed runners-up.
Despite all his achievements with DeMbare, Pasuwa believes guiding the Warriors to Africa’s premier football tournament is the biggest highlight of his career.
“As a coach, it’s one thing that I have been crying for is to take the team to the Afcon finals but I think credit should go to the boys for the hard work.
“We worked as a team and we have made everyone proud.”