Musona gives Warriors hope

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Germany-based striker Knowledge Musona is surely inspired by legendary former Warriors skipper Peter Ndlovu.

Ndlovu, in his heyday, would fly into the country on the day of a match and dazzle the opposition to pieces.

One such match was when he scored a hat-trick against Swaziland in a Cosafa Castle match at Barbourfields Stadium in a 5-2 win when he had arrived at midday from his then-England base.

Musona arrived in Bujumbura, Burundi, just three hours before Wednesdays 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier and did all he could to score that crucial away goal, as Rahman Gumbos Warriors lost 2-1.

Gumbos fate will be decided by the next Zifa board meeting.

This is the goal that could send Zimbabwe to the next stage of the competition if the Warriors maintain their fine run at Rufaro Stadium in the return leg on June 17 and get that crucial win.

The Warriors have not lost at Rufaro and even though under Norman Mapeza they failed to qualify for the 2012 Afcon finals, they did beat Mali 2-1 in a game where Musona scored a double, and won two friendly matches against Zambia and South Africa.

Zimbabwe faced the same circumstances like last October when they travelled to the Cape Verde Islands for the final Afcon 2012 final qualifier where they had to join up with some players in Praia.
They lost 2-1 and duly bowed out.

But what gives Zimbabwe hope is suspended players and coaches aside there is a return leg to be played in June.

This time around, there will be no excuses; all leagues across the world where Zimbabwe draws its players will be off-season, as all attention will be on the European championships in Poland and Ukraine which run from June 8 to July 1.

Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze said they would try to organise friendly matches for the Warriors ahead of the return leg.

We need to look outside the Fifa calendar and get some matches. What would be advantageous is that it will be off-season for our players; they will have enough time to prepare, he said.

February 29 had been set aside by Fifa as an international friendlies day and clubs could only release their players two days before any match, which left the coaches with no option.

June 4 and June 8-12 are the other official dates for the second round of the 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifying stages. And players are released five days before the match, which would give any coach enough preparatory time.

The Warriors have not been lucky on the road and a look at their last campaign for the 2012 finals reveals a draw in Liberia and two losses to Mali and the Cape Verde Islands.

The last away win in an international friendly came in 2009 when Zimbabwe beat Mozambique 3-0 in Maputo when the team was under Madinda Ndlovu. The last win in Afcon qualifiers was in 2004 a 2-0 win over Rwanda at the Amahoro Stadium under Gumbo.

That was the game in which Tinashe Nengomasha scored his first international goal.

Zimbabwe then lost 5-0 to Nigeria in the last qualifier although the country had already made the grade.

Besides these, the Warriors have also won two matches in the 2004 and 2006 Afcon finals beating Algeria and Ghana by the same 2-1 scoreline respectively.

In the 2010 combined Afcon and World Cup qualifiers, Zimbabwe managed just one home win, drawing 0-0 against Guinea (twice) before losing 4-2 away to Namibia. The Warriors also lost 2-0 to Kenya in Nairobi.