Calisto Pasuwa’s third title in Malawi makes him the most successful Zimbabwean coach
TRENDSETTER GREAT KHALI. . . Pasuwa remains grounded despite setting new record
It has been an enthralling three years being a football manager in Malawi for Kalisto Pasuwa. The gaffer is now regarded by many as one of the best club coaches to emerge from this country.
The trendsetting Pasuwa is once again basking in glory after bagging his third straight Malawi Super League championship with Nyasa Big Bullets.
That feat took his tally to seven championships on the trot, if one factors in the four consecutive titles he won with Dynamos between 2011 and 2014.
He coached the national team between 2015 and 2017, before he was snapped up by the Blantyre giants on October 19, 2018.
Now, as he clocks exactly three years in Malawi, some have even been left wondering what else is left to achieve for Pasuwa in the Southern African nation’s domestic competition.
Pasuwa has presided over 67 Super League matches since taking over from the duo of Elijah Kananji and Rodgers Yasin.
In that period, Nyasa Big Bullets have won 44 league matches, drawn 16 times and lost on only seven occasions.
It’s a 74 percent pass mark for the former Zimbabwe coach, who took the Warriors to the African Nations Championships (CHAN) tourney in Rwanda in 2016 and the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon a year later.
In 2015, he also guided the national Under-23 team to the African Games (All-Africa Games).
When he took over, Nyasa Big Bullets had last won the league title in 2015, but he has now guided the Blantyre outfit to three successive championships.
Despite a glittering period in club dugouts, Pasuwa remains modest, insisting he is still learning in the trade.
He could also not be drawn into revealing whether thoughts of a move from Malawi have crossed his mind yet.
“I am not yet thinking about that, but still focusing on the remaining games then take it up from there when the fixtures are concluded,” Pasuwa told The Sunday Mail Sport from his base in Blantyre.
Nyasa Big Bullets complete the season with a home fixture against Karonga United on Saturday.
What a season it has been for the ex-Dynamos and Zimbabwe midfielder, whose side lost only four games this season.
In fact, under Pasuwa, Big Bullets have lost four times in their last 50 league games.
The 51-year-old coach, however, opened up on what drives his success.
“The biggest trick is to believe in your players and also make them believe in you, the rest will fall in place.
“When I got here we tried to build a never-say-die spirit in the team and also moved away from the Animal Farm ideology where some animals are more equal than others.
“Any player called into action performed, and that was a plus for us.
“The support I get from the general public played a pivotal role in the defence of this title. Also the keen ear with which we pay attention to sports science helped us achieve this.
“It has to be remembered that everything we have achieved or will achieve on planet earth is because the Almighty has given it the greenlight to happen.”
It was also not plain sailing for him in the beginning as there was some bit of resistance to his plan to replace old horses with youthful players.
But he had to summon all his courage and tough character to weather the storm.
“There is always resistance, wherever you go, but it only takes character to achieve what you want.”
With a proud record of winning the championship in every season that he has coached a club, Pasuwa is regarded by some as the best ever club coach to be produced in Zimbabwe.
His four straight titles with Dynamos remain a Premiership record in Zimbabwe.
A former player-coach with the now-defunct Sporting Lions, Pasuwa has shrugged off talk about his status, arguing that he is still a student of the game.
“I just want to appreciate whatever good people are saying but I choose to remain humble in front of them and keep learning so as to improve in my weak areas.”
He has also been charmed by the reception he received from the people of Blantyre, which he says he still enjoys so much that he sometimes forgets he is in a foreign land.
“Well, the people have been fantastic. You know, at most times it takes someone to remind me that I am in a foreign land.
“The people this side have just not only been supportive but they are also loving and very protective.
“It’s very difficult to adjust to life in a foreign land but for me I did it because of the people this side.
“Life has been good this side. Actually, there is a thin line that separates the life here and back home. We share a lot of things culturally and also economically,” he said.
His critics, though, point to his failure to deliver on the Champions League stage.
Pasuwa failed to take Dynamos into the group stage and is still to take Nyasa Big Bullets beyond the preliminary stages.
The Malawian champions were recently knocked out at the preliminary stage by South African side AmaZulu.
An unassuming coach, Pasuwa acknowledged his sides have struggled in the continental game.
“I believe most clubs doing good in the Champions League have big financial muscle, which makes them invest more for the Champions League matches.
“As coaches, we have a part to play but the rest we cannot control.”
The Sunday Mail