When Knowledge Musona limped off in the first half of KAS Eupen’s 1-4 defeat to Genk in January, one would argue that the setback worried Warriors fans more than those of ‘Team Panda.’
By Lawrence Mangenje
The Smiling Assassin, as Musona is affectionately-known in the country, played a pivotal role before and during Zimbabwe’s 2-2 draw with defending champions Algeria at the National Sports Stadium last November.
After the last training session at the giant facility on the eve of the epic clash, Musona told sports journalists that the team was not looking into what happens elsewhere (in Group H) but simply focusing on themselves to book a place at AFCON in Cameroon.
“Anything can happen in football, we don’t depend on other teams (in the group). We will play for ourselves. We want to qualify with our points without looking at other teams, expecting favors,”said Musona.
“I think it’s best to do the job for ourselves, so there is no pressure. Any result can come tomorrow, win or lose. We still have two more games to play (after Monday’s game), but the first thing is to focus on the next match day, and forget about the other team and try to do our best to collect maximum points,” he added.
True to his word, of making sure the team gets a positive result and not depend on what happens elsewhere, the former Kaizer Chiefs star showed his never give up attitude when even his teammates looked down and out, after Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez produced a contender for the Puskas award, tricking his way past Adam Chicksen to put the Desert Foxes 2-0 up in the first half.
His magnificent free kick on the stroke of half time started what would be a remarkable come back, eventually completed by a late Prince Dube strike, off a corner kick he curled in.
Put simply, Musona has been directly-involved in four of the five goals scored by the team in the current campaign, having set up both goals netted by Khama Billiat when the Warriors, then under the tutelage of Joey Antipas, smashed and grabbed Chipolopolo in their own backyard in November 2019.
While the availability of some Warriors stars for the upcoming battles against Botswana and Zambia slated for later this month remain limbo due Covid-19 related logistical issues, the possibility of Musona in particular, not showing up, was nerve-wrecking.
The soft-spoken skipper is one individual whose presence makes the biggest difference and his return to full fitness ahead of the decisive games, is an energizer.
His leadership skills, shown clearly in the Algeria game when he ended up playing at right back to help defensively in preservation a crucial point, makes any Warriors fan, myself included, believe that we will book a place at African football’s biggest spectacle in Cameroon, despite all the inconveniences in the build-up to the two games.
Go Warriors Go!