Warriors forward, Khama Billiat is expected to have fully recovered from a bout of flu that threatened to keep him out of tonight’s crucial Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group B football clash against Senegal.
BY Kevin Mapasure in Franceville, Gabon
Billiat has been down with flu in the last couple of days, but coach, Kalisto Pasuwa yesterday said his condition had improved and was expected to have fully recovered to play in today’s match.
Pasuwa said both Billiat and Evans Rusike had been affected, but the medical team was working to get them ready for the Senegal clash.
“Both Khama and Rusike have had flu in the last few days. Their condition has improved considerably, and for Khama, it was serious at one point. He is better now and I think by tomorrow (today), he will be in the best condition for the match.”
Billiat was the star of the show when Zimbabwe drew 2-all with Algeria in the Group B opening match on Sunday.
Team doctor, Nick Munyonga said Billiat missed training on Tuesday due to the cold, but was expected to get back to training last night.
“Khama was down the whole day yesterday (Tuesday) with a bout of common cold. He is on medication and is much better today. With his temperature down, he will train with the rest of the team. Rusike had a mild version and did not miss training yesterday and is okay,” he said.
Besides injured Knowledge Musona, the rest of the squad is available for tonight’s match.
The Warriors talisman is expected to return for the team’s final group game against Tunisia on Monday, following a hamstring injury in the first match against Algeria.
It was feared Musona, who lasted just 11 minutes in Sunday’s match, would not take further part in the tournament.
But Pasuwa said the striker was on the recovery path and was expected to have recovered by Monday.
“Musona had a hamstring injury, but it’s not as bad as we thought. He will definitely miss the Senegal match, but he will be back for the Tunisia tie,” he said.
According to the medical team, Musona did not sustain any muscle tear and rest was crucial for his recovery, which they expected could take place within seven days.
Musona is the only player in the 23-member squad who is not available for tonight’s clash. Midfielder, Marvellous Nakamba, who missed the Algeria match through suspension, is in contention to play a role.
In Musona’s absence, Billiat and Kuda Mahachi made sure his unavailability was not felt, as they hit high notes from start to finish.
Mahachi got Zimbabwe’s first goal after Riyad Mahrez had thrust Algeria ahead moments after Musona had limped off, to be replaced by Mathew Rusike, who played a huge role defensively in the second half, where the Warriors were under siege.
It will be interesting what Pasuwa will do with the situation he is faced with. Whether he will stick with Mathew Rusike or bring in someone else, probably Nakamba, is the question on Zimbabwean fans’ mouths.