In life, the turn-around from being a hero to a villain can happen in the blink of an eye.
On October 13 last year, at a packed Stade de Matyers Stadium in Kinshasa, SuperSport TV live feed went off while Zimbabweans were glued to their television sets watching the Warriors take on the hosts, a star-studded DRC in an AFCON 2019 qualifier.
When the live feed returned, Zimbabweans were shocked that the Warriors had extended their lead after having gone ahead through a Ronald Pfumbidzai strike, which was as good as the choreographed celebration which followed it.
It later came to light that skipper Knowledge Musona had scored for Zimbabwe, though the SuperSport TV crew could not have a replay of the goal because there was no live feed when it was scored. The manner in which Zimbabwean fans searched for a video of that goal was a clear testimony of a nation with so much belief and confidence in their captain’s ability.
Those in the truth-telling business can agree that the AFCON 2019 qualifying campaign was characterized by Musona’s moments of magic. He would eventually finish it with an impressive 5 goals in total, paving way for some fans to claim that the striker “single-handedly took the team to Egypt.”
AFCON 2019 in Egypt nonetheless, saw the captain experience perhaps of his roughest patches in his football career; he was robbed off the ball leading to Egypt’s goal in the tournament opener and also missed a sitter against Uganda in a game which the Warriors should have won quite frankly.
The aftermath of the continental showpiece did not help him either; he has not been included in his Belgian side’s RSC Anderlecht’ s match day squad in a period spanning the tenures of two different coaches, promoting for some to suggest that he is not suitable for national team selection.
If the truth is to be told however, the 29-year-old is still one of the finest footballers in the land and the rough patch he is currently under cannot make anyone question both his ability on the field of play and commitment to the national team.
In fact, if we are to go back to the chaotic AFCON 2019, apart from Khama Billiat, which Warriors player can be singled out to have played well consitently in all the three games?
Additionally, if Zimbabweans can get used to Elvis Chipezeze being the number one goalkeeper, the same Chipezeze whose high school blunders cost the team against DRC, why can’t Musona be given another chance?
This is one view echoed by former Warriors coach Charles Mhlauri.
“Match fitness is necessary but it is not the only factor considered for a national team call-up,” the dreadlocked coach told The Sunday Mail recently.
“I am confident that when he (Musona) comes, coaches will pass or fail him, guided by their medical team and his fitness,”
“There is no one-size-fits-all here. What is needed is to avail all the players to the coaches, then let them decide which tools to use,” explained Mhlauri when asked whether Joey Antipas’ decision to include Musona in the Warriors squad is a justifiable one.
Another local coach who backed Antipas’ decision is former Bulawayo City gaffer Garthly Chipuka.
“Musona’s statistics in the Warriors colours do not lie,” Chapuka reportedly said.
“Let’s not be emotional, Musona is one of the best we have. He has this telepathic relationship with Khama (Billiat), which has brought results for Zimbabwe.”
“So if you want Khama to be effective, you need Musona around him. At times we need to find out the real reason why Musona is not playing at his club, maybe the coaches there just don’t like him or have some personal problems with him,” he added.
Opinions are like noses, everybody has one, but the Musona situation needs to be looked at with an objective football mind.