Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
AS the first batch of Warriors start trooping in camp today, Zimbabwe need more than a prayer for their talisman Knowledge Musona to be available for the crucial African Cup of Nations football qualifier against Congo at the National Sports Stadium this coming Sunday.
The forward, who suffered an adductor strain last week, failed a fitness test last Friday ahead of his Belgian club Sporting Lokeren’s last game of the season.
However, he has been keeping his fingers crossed ahead of further tests by the Zimbabwe national team medical staff to ascertain his availability for the do-or-die clash with Congo.
Team manager Wellington Mpandare has been in constant touch with the 28-year-old who is expected in the country tomorrow from his base in Belgium. The majority of the foreign-based players have been scheduled to report for duty today.
While Musona sounded upbeat in his last conversation with the technical team, the Warriors team management have been keeping their fingers crossed.
“The club wrote to us about the injury. I have been talking to him and he indicated that he was given one-week off to allow him to recover, so we are hoping for the best.
“In fact, it’s not like he cannot play with his current condition but it’s all about managing him to avoid aggravating the injury. So the fact that he didn’t play this weekend could actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise for us as well because he needed the rest. We will see how it will unfold,” said Mpandare.
Musona missed Sporting Lokeren’s closing game in the Belgian Pro-League last night due to the injury he suffered last week, capping a depressing season that also saw the side getting relegated.
Lokeren indicated in their website that Musona suffered a strain on his adductor muscles. The type of injury usually takes between one to six weeks to heal depending on severity.
The Warriors forward, who is on loan from giants Anderlecht, played 75 minutes in last week’s 0-1 defeat to Genk and had to watch from the terraces when Lokeren paid homage to the home fans in their “Last Supper” against Cercle Brugge.
Musona has remained a vital cog for Zimbabwe despite the woes he has faced since he made the move to Belgian giants Anderlecht, who then loaned him to Lokeren.
Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa is praying for the best after another key player Marvelous Nakamba was ruled out because of injury.
Musona has been the light bearer in the current qualifiers, the same way he carried the team when they qualified for the last edition in Gabon.
He was the leading scorer along with Khama Billiat on three goals for Zimbabwe during the 2017 qualifiers as Zimbabwe broke an 11-year jinx with a game to spare.
The Zimbabwe’s talisman has scored four goals in four outings in the current campaign including a rare hat-trick in the opening match of the campaign in the 3-0 win over Liberia.
His fine goal against DRC at their own Stade des Martyrs cauldron secured a memorable 2-1 away win over the Leopards which pushed Zimbabwe closer to qualification.
Musona is tied on four goals with Liverpool and Egypt forward Mohamed Salah and Angola’s veteran forward Mateus. Nigeria’s Idion Oghalo and Fiston Abdul Razak of Burundi lead the charts with six goals apiece.
But Zimbabwe hold the aces in Group G. A draw against the Red Devils on Sunday could still seal a finals berth.
The Warriors are scheduled to have their first training session tomorrow.
The South Africa-based quartet of goalkeeper George Chigova, Teenage Hadebe, Khama Billiat and Evans Rusike, who have an afternoon flight today, are the early birds.
The second batch comprising Alec Mudimu, Divine Lunga, Ronald Pfumbidzai, Butholezwe Ncube, Danny Phiri, Ovidy Karuru, Talent Chawapiwa, Kelvin Lunga, Tino Kadewere, Knox Mutizwa and Admiral Muskwe has an evening flight.
Skipper Musona and the Orlando Pirates duo of Kuda Mahachi and Nyasha Munetsi are expected tomorrow while England-based Tendayi Darikwa will be the last to arrive on Wednesday.