WARRIORS’ chief marksman Knowledge Musona sat out yesterday’s practice match against Motor Action, raising fears the striker would not be fit for tomorrow’s World Cup football qualifier against Egypt at the National Sports Stadium.
Report by Daniel Nhakaniso
The Hoffenheim striker did not take part in the match because of a hamstring problem, but both the player and his coach Klaus Dieter Pagels remained confident that he will be fit for tomorrow’s tie.
Pagels confirmed that they had given Musona a break as they feared his involvement in the practice match would further aggravate the injury.
“Musona didn’t train today (yesterday). He has problems with his hamstring and we thought it was better to give him a rest, but he will be in good shape for the match and hopefully we can use him,” said the German coach.
Musona, who scored the Warriors goal in a 2-1 losing cause during the reverse fixture in March, said he was confident he would have regained full fitness ahead of tomorrow’s march.
“Yes, I injured my hamstring when I was sprinting during warm-up. I felt I had to stop and the team doctor advised me to take a rest.
“I knew if I started running and shooting, it would only make it worse. I’m confident. It’s nothing serious though and will be ready come Sunday,” Musona said after the morning session.
Pagels will be desperately hoping that Musona fully recovers in time for the match as he is already short of options upfront after Simba Sithole withdrew from the squad because of a recurrent knee injury.
Sithole will also miss next week’s trip to Guinea.
Pagels was using yesterday’s practice match against the Mighty Bulls to try out new combinations before he names his final 18-man squad today, although he was not giving away much in terms of tomorrow’s starting 11 as he fielded two different sides in both halves.
The opening half — which featured the likes of Ovidy Karuru, Archford Gutu and Abbas Amidu in midfield — ended goalless before Mathew Rusike notched a second-half brace in reply to Dylan Chivandire’s opener for the Bulls. Rusike looked sharp as he combined well with skipper Denver Mukamba and Ronald Chitiyo.
Pagels said the only department which looked unconvincing was the strike force.
“I think all the other departments have done very well and keep possession of the ball. The only problem we saw in the matches against Monomotapa and Motor Action is the finishing.
“We missed a lot of chances, but maybe for them (the players) it’s because it’s not a competitive match, but they must get it in their brains in all matches and have to be really serious.
“The result was not really important for us. We were assessing some areas and we will discuss with the players what we noticed. It was really helpful that we had this match and the other match against Monomotapa the day before. Overall, I’m really happy to work with these guys. All of them really look sharp and want to make it to the final 18. I think on Sunday (tomorrow) we will have a team with high team spirit.”
Although the nation’s hopes of qualifying for the next phase of the qualifiers are virtually over, tomorrow’s match against Egypt will still be of huge significance to the Warriors.
Meanwhile, Egypt will be aiming for a win that will take them to the last qualifying round for Brazil irrespective of the Guinea-Mozambique match which will be played later in the evening.
The Pharaohs lead Group G on nine points, five points clear of second-placed Guinea, while Mozambique lie third with two points, one ahead of bottom side Zimbabwe. The visitors trained at Prince Edward School yesterday afternoon and would have a feel of the match venue today.
But Egypt’s preparations suffered a major blow after their skipper, goalkeeper Abdel-Wahed El-Sayed, was rushed to the hospital after injuring his elbow during training. No official comment was given on the extent of the injury as the Egypt officials had barred the media from covering the training session.
However, the NewsDay Sport crew was present when El-Sayed withdrew from the training session grimacing in pain while clutching his elbow before he was rushed to the hospital.
Goalkeepers: Washington Arubi (Tuks, SA), Max Nyamupangedengu (Harare City), Artwell Mukandi (Dynamos).
Defenders: Hardlife Zvirekwi (Caps United), Patson Jaure, Ocean Mushure (both Dynamos), Lincoln Zvasiya (Kaizer Chiefs, SA), Felix Chindungwe, (Chicken Inn), Eric Chapeta (Hwange), Nicholas Guyo (Monomotapa)
Midfielders: Denver Mukamba (Bidvest Wits, SA), Archford Gutu (Kalmar, Sweden), Silas Songani (Harare City), Abbas Amidu (Black Leopards, SA), Tafadzwa Rusike (free agent), Khama Billiat (Ajax Cape Town, SA), Ronald Chitiyo, (Monomotapa), Masimba Mambare (Highlanders), Ovidy Karuru (OH Leuven, Belgium), Devon Chafa (Dynamos) Mathew Rusike (Kaizer Chiefs, SA),
Strikers: Knowledge Musona (Hoffenheim, Germany), Rodreck Mutuma (Bloemfontein Celtic, SA), (Supersport, SA), Cuthbert Malajila (Maritzburg United, SA).
Egypt’s Probable XI: Sherif Ekrami, Ahmed Fathi, Wael Gomaa, Ahmed Shedid, Mahmoud Fathalla, Abdullah El Said, Mohamed Abou-Treika, Ibrahim Salah, Ahmed Gafar, Mohamed Salah