HomeSportPasuwa defends Ivory Coast friendly

Pasuwa defends Ivory Coast friendly

WHAT began as a dream fine-tuning encounter for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon)-bound Warriors is turning out to be nothing but a damp squib, with coach Kalisto Pasuwa (pictured) only taking locally-based players, plus Sweden-based forward Tino Kadewere for the Boxing Day tie against Ivory Coast in Abidjan.

BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE

Zimbabwe has in the past failed to attract friendly matches with continental powerhouses and after qualifying for the 2017 Gabon Afcon finals, the national football team became a reasonable opponent for top teams.

However, poor communication and planning on the part of local football authorities, has rendered the big tie a mere waste of time.

The foreign-based players are set to start trooping into camp on Monday, the same day the friendly against the African champions will be played.

Zimbabwe coach Pasuwa rued missing an opportunity to test a full-strength Warriors team against continental giants Ivory Coast.

“This fixture was arranged some time ago so we were thinking that we would have all our players before December 24. We later found out that most of the boys will come on December 25. So now we just have to fulfil the game as per arrangement,” Pasuwa said.

As a result, the Warriors coaching department has had to call more local players who were not in the provisional Afcon squad in order to fulfil the Ivory Coast friendly.

Players like Harare City’s Farai Madhanhanga, Walter Musona (FC Platinum), Malvin Gaki (Triangle) and Pritchard Mpelele from How Mine complete the 18-man squad that was scheduled to leave for Ivory Coach yesterday.

Pasuwa was at pains trying to draw positives from the needless trip to West Africa without his top players.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a matter of wasting time because I have taken the local boys; we also need to test them playing away from home,” he said.

The trip has become a liability as it further disrupts the technical team’s plans to begin training with a complete provisional Afcon squad in earnest.

“We wanted to go into camp on December 22 and we had to postpone to the 26th. We wanted to camp in the Lowveld and then on January 3 take off from there, and then play Gabon in Cameroon two days later and face Cameroon on January 10 before proceeding to Gabon,” the Warriors gaffer explained.

Sadly for Zimbabwe, despite Zifa claiming to have secured a number of top friendly matches in the run up to Gabon, the only other confirmed fixture is the one against Cameroon, set for January 10 in Yaoundé.

In order to accommodate the foreign-based players who troop into camp on Boxing Day, Pasuwa has been forced to split his technical team, leaving behind a couple of coaches as well as a fitness trainer.

“We are going with an 18-man squad and a few technical units, some of the technical team members will remain behind so that those who come on the evening of the 26th will be taken care of when our programme starts on the 27th, waiting for the other boys to come back,” Warriors team manager Shariff Mussa said.

Faced with such a dire situation, Pasuwa may end up remaining behind to start preparation with the foreign-based stars. The team had not decided on who is going with the team by late yesterday.

The team was scheduled to leave the country for Ivory Coast yesterday, but by late afternoon Mussa had not received the travel itinerary for the team.

Expected back in camp on the 28th with his band of locally-based players, Pasuwa will have less than two days to finalise his 23-man Afcon squad for Gabon before the CAF December 31 deadline.
Zimbabwe has never been known to prepare well for any tournament and had on average two-and-a-half days to prepare for matches during the qualifiers.

The Afcon finals kick off on January 14 with the Warriors playing their first match the following day against Algeria.

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