BY HENRY MHARA
INJURED forward Knowledge Musona sat out of the Warriors’ training session yesterday as the team proceeded with their preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group G qualifier against Congo Brazzaville at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday, but the medical department is confident that the striker will be ready for the make-or-break clash.
The “Smiling Assassin”, as the Warriors skipper is affectionately known, is struggling with a groin injury he picked while training with his Belgian league side Lokeren last week, which kept him out of the team’s league action at the weekend after failing a fitness test on Friday.
The Warriors skipper arrived in Harare on Tuesday afternoon amid uncertainty over his availability for the match on Sunday, where Zimbabwe need a draw to book their ticket to the Afcon finals set for Egypt in June.
Musona, with three goals in the current campaign, did not take part in the team’s drills at Harare International School yesterday, as the Sunday Chidzambga-coached squad intensified their training for the match.
Chidzambga told journalists shortly before the training session that he was unsure whether his most treasured lieutenant would be available for selection.
However, a member of the Warriors medical department allayed any fears of Musona’s unavailability for the big match.
The source said resting Musona was just a precautionary measure, as his injury was not as serious as was initially feared.
“He has a small rapture on his groin, but it’s not that bad. We have been assessing him since he arrived, and we can assure you that he will play. Resting him is part of the therapy sessions that he has to go through. He is not feeling much pain, and we think by Sunday, he would be fine,” the source said.
“We have been in constant touch with his club doctors, who told us about his condition and we have also been updating them on his progress and all the parties are happy. Unless something dramatic happens, Musona should be fit to play the whole match.”
The news will be welcome to Chidzambga and the Warriors fans, as the team has already lost star midfielder Marvellous Nakamba to injury.
Nakamba, however, flew into camp from his Belgian base this week to give morale to his teammates, and he is confident that they will sail through.
All the 28 players that Chidzambga called to camp had arrived by yesterday, with England-based Tendayi Darikwa the last to jet in.
The Nottingham Forest defender arrived in the country around midday, and immediately joined his teammates for a training session at 3pm.
Nakamba was heavily involved in the drills for the entire duration.
The players were in high spirits and will be hoping to wrap up the campaign in style with a victory over a tricky Congo Brazzaville side.
Zimbabwe lead the group with eight points, followed by Liberia on seven.
The Democratic Republic of Congo have six, while Brazzaville have five.
So open is the group that all the four teams will go into their final matches at the weekend with a chance of winning the two qualifying slots.
If the Warriors avoid a defeat on Sunday, they will go through together with either DRC or Liberia, who face off on the same day in Kinshasa.
Chidzambga’s men can still qualify even with a defeat, but only if the match in Kinshasa ends in a draw.
Goalkeepers: G Chigova (Polokwane City, SA), E Sibanda (Witbank Spurs, SA), P Mhari (FC Platinum)
Defenders: D Lunga (Lamontville Golden Arrows, SA), M Munetsi (Orlando Pirates, SA), T Hadebe (Kaizer Chiefs, SA), A Mudimu (CEFN Druids, Wales), T Darikwa (Nottingham Forest, England), J Dzingai (Power Dynamos, Zambia), R Pfumbidzai (Bloemfontein Celtic, SA), G Murwira (FC Platinum)
Midfielders: T Kutinyu (Azam, Tanzania), R Hachiro (Herentals), K Mahachi (Orlando Pirates, SA), L Mavunga (Yadah Stars), K Musona (KSC Lokeren Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium), O Karuru (Amazulu, SA), B Ncube (Amazulu, SA), K Lunga (SV Rodinghausen, Germany), K Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs, SA), D Phiri (Lamontville Golden Arrows, SA), T Chawapihwa (Amazulu, SA)
Strikers: T Kadewere (Le Havre AC, France), E Rusike (SuperSport United, SA), A Muskwe (Leicester City, England), K Mutizwa (Golden Arrows, SA), A Amidu (Arar, Saudi Arabia)