WARRIORS striker, Knowledge Musona has been ruled out of the second Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group B football match against Senegal on Thursday after sustaining a hamstring injury in the opener against Algeria on Sunday.
BY KEVIN MAPASURE IN FRANCEVILLE, Gabon
Musona limped off after just 11 minutes into the match, clutching his right hamstring and was replaced by Mathew Rusike.
After the match, coach, Kalisto Pasuwa said he suspected Musona had torn a muscle, but his fears were allayed yesterday, when the medical team discovered it was a mild strain.
However, it is not clear as to when he will be available to return, although the target is to get him ready for the Tunisia match.
Team doctor, Nick Munyonga yesterday told NewsDaySport that, at best, Musona would be fit for the final group game.
“Musona sustained a mild right hamstring strain. On assessment, we feel there is no muscle tear,” he said.
“We are going to apply standard hamstring strain injury treatment modalities that include rest. He will not be rushed to return to play. Our target will be the third game, which is seven days away, if he is to get better.
Players have different healing time, hence, it is difficult to be specific, as to when he will be fit to return to play.”
The Senegal match will be a crucial one for the Warriors, who started off with a 2-all draw against Algeria, following first-half goals from Kuda Mahachi and Nyasha Mushekwi, while Leicester forward, Riyad Mahrez scored in either half for the Desert Foxes.
Senegal, on the other hand, emerged 2-0 winners against Tunisia, thrusting them to the top of Group B.
Zimbabwe will be looking to keep their Afcon dream alive, with a positive result against Senegal and Musona’s absence will come as a blow to Pasuwa’s men.
Before he had discovered the extent of the injury on Sunday, Pasuwa told NewsDaySport that he was worried about losing the player for the tournament.
It is possible that Musona could fail to recover in time for the Tunisia match, which will also be crucial in shaping the Warriors’ destiny in this tournament.
While Pasuwa will be missing one of the Warriors’ prized assets, he will be boosted by the return of Netherlands-based midfielder, Marvellous Nakamba, who is available after missing the Algeria match, serving suspension after accumulating two yellow cards in the qualifiers.
The discussion on the Warriors is likely to centre on what Pasuwa will do with the loss of Musona and the return of Nakamba.
One of many options would be to restore Rusike to the bench and thrust Nakamba straight into a midfield triumvirate that also includes captain, Willard Katsande and Danny Phiri.
Another option would be letting Rusike fill in for Musona and allow the duo of Katsande and Phiri to operate as they did in the first match.
It will be interesting to see how Pasuwa will decide to set up his team against one of the tournament favourites, who have a quick attack led by Liverpool forward, Sadio Mane and a midfield marshalled by West Ham’s Cheikou Kouyate.