Are good coaches endangered species?

HARARE - One man who could be looking back at the turn of events in Zimbabwean football and having a really good chuckle is Klaus-Dieter Pagels.

Some nine months or so after being cast off as Warriors coach by Zifa, as immigration authorities would do to an illegal émigré, Pagels can only watch from somewhere in Germany as his successor, Ian Gorowa, experiences the same unpleasant treatment he received at the hands of his Zifa.

Pagels thought he had done sufficiently well enough to earn the Warriors job on a fulltime basis. I thought so too.

Results might not have started coming, but sooner or later, the fruits of his hard, enthusiastic work were going to be enjoyed. 

The big German had struck the right chord with his players and it was clear as broad daylight.

I spent four days with the Warriors in Egypt ahead of their World Cup qualifier with Egypt last March, and it was quite inspirational to see a group of Zimbabwe players clearly enjoying their football under a coach whose philosophy they seemed to like and fit into.

Couple of months later I was also in the Zambian Copperbelt for the Cosafa Cup final pitting the Warriors and the hosts.

At the post-match conference after Zambia had won the final and it had since been made clear to all of us and Pagels himself, in the most disrespectful of manners – through unofficial press statements – that his days were numbered, the coach cut a solitary figure sitting next to Chipolopolo gaffer Hervé Renard.

Pagels’ demeanour gave away a man deeply troubled and betrayed.

Asked about his views on the tournament and final, he could only mumble back some words of little significance.

But there was one line which really touched me.

“I hope they get the coach they want,” he said solemnly. 

I’m sure I also saw tears in his eyes. The big guy was feeling used, and useless. I’d never felt so sorry for a big, grownup white man.

Months down the line, it is Ian Gorowa in the same position.

In his short stay as Warriors coach, Gorowa has the results to show for it; famous victory over Zambia to qualify for a Chan tournament he admirably came agonisingly close to win.

Gorowa is also a true gentleman of the game, a firm believer in modern coaching methods, with an impressive attention to detail.

And like Pagels before him, Ian has had to work without a proper contract from the association, his biggest motivation being his job.

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