National senior soccer team chief striker Knowledge Musona remains a major doubt for the crunch African Cup of Nations Cup qualifier against Liberia at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Liberia were expected in the country last night.Musona sustained a groin injury during training with his German Bundesliga side TSG 1899 Hoffenheim two and a half weeks ago.
Warriors’ team manager Sharif Mussa told NewsDay Sport the striker’s availability for the crucial tie would only be known after the German club’s medical team submits a detailed report.
The report is expected today.
“He is still in Germany with his club,” said Mussa on Monday.
“We haven’t asked him to come as yet. We are hoping that his team’s medical team will have another look at him, do some more tests. We are expecting to get a detailed report on his full fitness in the coming two days. The final decision still rests with our doctors though. If we are not satisfied with the report from their doctors we can still call him in and our doctors will assess him,” added the team manager.
However, while Mussa was still calm and sounding optimistic that Musona would make it for the tie, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Monday confirmed Zimbabweans’ worst fears.
The club revealed on their website that Musona out of the match.
He is one of four players that the team said would not be travelling out for international duty this weekend.
The team’s website read on Monday: “Vukcevic (Germany U21), Vedad Ibisevic (Bosnia), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Iceland) and Knowledge Musona (Zimbabwe) had to cancel (travelling) to their national teams due to injuries.”
Initial prognosis was that Musona would be out of action for at least three weeks, but the Warriors technical team led by Norman Mapeza still believes that the 21-year-old sniper will recover in time for the make-or-break tie.
The “Smiling Assassin” has become an integral part of the Warriors set-up and has scored all of the Warriors’ three goals to date in the qualification campaign.
What has compounded Mapeza’s situation is the absence of Nyasha Mushekwi, who is serving his suspension after accumulating two yellow cards in the previous qualifiers.
That leaves Sudan-based Edward Sadomba as the only experienced striker available while Mamelodi Sundowns’ Simba Sithole is also another option upfront.
In the event that Musona fails to recover for the tie, Mapeza will be forced to get a replacement and Dynamos striker Cuthbert Malajila, who has been prolific since rejoining the Harare giants, looks the likely option.
The Warriors started trooping into camp on Monday ahead of the Lone Star clash.
Mussa revealed that all the South Africa-based players, including Moroka Swallows’ Gilbert Mapemba who missed the Zambia international friendly match early this month, had arrived in the country by yesterday afternoon.
On the European front, France- based Ovidy Karuru was expected on Monday evening while Belgium- based Vusa Nyoni and Quincy Antipas (Denmark) are expected in the country on Tuesday.
The Warriors had their first training session at the National Sports Stadium on Monday afternoon.
Zimbabwe lie third in Group A with five points after a single win, two draws and a loss in Mali.
After Liberia, the Warriors still have to go to Praia and play surprise log leaders Cape Verde (seven points) in the final group game scheduled for October.
A win by the Warriors, coupled with a Mali loss against Liberia can guarantee Zimbabwe a place in the 2012 finals.
Mali are in second place with six points from the same number of matches, while the Lone Star is bottom of the group with four points.
Only the group winners qualify for the finals to be hosted jointly by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea next year.
With the two host nations already guaranteed participation, there is also room for two best-placed runners-up.