Ellina Mhlanga, Harare Bureau
WARRIORS captain, Knowledge Musona, feels he is in fine shape to lead his country’s final bid to book a place at the 2019 Afcon finals in their make-or-break showdown against Congo-Brazzaville on Sunday.
The “Smiling Assassin” has been the mainstay of the Warriors, since making his debut, and such has been his huge impact he is now widely considered as the side’s Most Valuable Player since King Peter Ndlovu.
He might be struggling to make an impact in the Belgian league this season, leading to him being loaned by giants Anderlecht to strugglers Lokeren, but Musona has usually sparkled for the Warriors.
And when news broke out last week that he could miss the match against the Congolese, because of an injury he sustained in training, there were concerns the Warriors would struggle without their talismanic forward.
However, Musona flew into Harare yesterday in good spirits and told our Harare Bureau he was certain he would be fine by the time the Warriors plunge into the defining battle.
“I went for a scan and they saw a small rapture on my groin, so they said it’s nothing big, so I will see in the next coming days how I will recover,’’ Musona said.
“I am feeling okay at this moment but I think I have to go to the field and try to do the things that I was doing before I was feeling the pain and see how I am feeling.
“But, at this moment, I can run normally, I have no pain, so I just have to go and try to kick the ball and see.’’
Zimbabwe, who are Group G leaders with eight points, need just a draw on Sunday when they host the Congolese Red Devils to secure their place at the AFCON finals.
The Warriors have had a largely positive campaign in the qualifiers, having started their campaign with a 3-0 win against Liberia in June 2017, and will now be hoping to provide the fairy-tale ending to their campaign.
Musona bagged a hat-trick during that game against the Lone Star at the National Sports Stadium in June 2017.
They went on to pick a point against Congo in Brazzaville last September and pulled off one of their finest results on the road when they beat the star-studden Democratic Republic of Congo 2-1 in Kinshasa.
Musona was also on target, in that game, scoring what proved to be the winner.
Musona has now scored four goals in the qualifiers and only two players, across the entire continent, have scored more.
“We just have to play like we used to do from the beginning,’’ said Musona. “So, I think, it’s a matter of finishing what we started because we have had a good campaign.
“We have lost only one game and we have a good record at home.
“So, we just have to go for a win. We are not going to say a draw is enough and you know when you play at your home ground you have to try to win and make the country proud.
“We are not going for anything less than a win.
“Whatever comes at the end of the game, it has to be the best from us, so that we can go to Egypt and I think there is no pressure, we are going to deliver like we did before.’’
The Warriors captain said their supporters should expect a good game on Sunday.
The Orlando Pirates duo of Kudakwashe Mahachi and Marshall Munetsi also arrived yesterday just before Musona.
Munetsi said they were aware of the threat being posed by the Congolese, who also stand a chance of qualifying if they win on Sunday.
“I think the approach has always been the same, to try and win each and every game we are going to play,’’ the Orlando Pirates utility player said.
“I think we are going to go all out for a victory since we are playing at home. It’s a must-win for us, we are not looking for a draw.
“I know they also need to get three points in this game, I think they are also going to come and play some attacking football.
“But it’s also going to be good for us because we have good players who can play on the counter-attack.’’
England-based Tendayi Darikwa is expected to join the rest of the Warriors squad today.
The Warriors had their first training session yesterday morning at Old Hararians Sports Club before they moved to the Harare International School for their afternoon session.
Marvelous Nakamba is also in the country to cheer his teammates after he was ruled out of this game due to an injury.