BY HENRY MHARA
WARRIORS captain Knowledge Musona saluted his troops for a job well done, qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals following a nearly flawless campaign that they wrapped up with a 2-0 win over Congo Brazzaville in front of a heaving home crowd at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
Needing to avoid a defeat in this match to go through to the finals to be held in Egypt this June, the team’s poster boy Khama Billiat gave the hosts the lead with a brilliant curling free-kick before Musona sealed the win with a spectacular volley, punishing the Congo defence which had made a horrendous mistake.
It was Musona’s fifth goal of the campaign, as the Belgium-based star forward led his team outstandingly from the front in a campaign that started with a convincing 3-0 home win over Liberia.
But the Smiling Assassin, as he is affectionately known, refused to take credit for the team’s achievement.
“It feels good (to qualify), but I must give credit to my teammates because I wasn’t playing alone. We had a very good campaign, we started very well and we finished it very well. The credit goes to the team and the coaches also, and like I said, overall, we had a very good campaign,” he said.
Musona scored a hattrick in the match against Liberia to give the Warriors a firm foundation in which they went on to build the remarkable feat.
A 1-1 draw with yesterday’s opponents followed in Brazzaville, and then against all odds, Zimbabwe managed to get four points against a star-studded Democratic Republic of Congo with a remarkable 2-1 win in Kinshasa and drawing 1-1 in Harare.
The campaign took a slight set-back when the Warriors lost 1-0 away to Liberia in a match that they needed just to draw to qualify.
In the end, that defeat in Monrovia mattered very little as Musona and his gallant Warriors fittingly wrapped up the campaign in front of over 50 000 cheering home supporters — to ensure a successive participation at the continental showpiece.
This is the first time in the history of the Warriors that they have made a successive appearance at the finals, and some have aptly named them the Golden Generation.
Inevitably, Musona was asked by journalists in the post-match conference if his generation was the best ever Warriors’ group.
He gave a beaming smile, before giving a modest response: “I think all our teams were great, those that played before us. So for us, we just took over the good work from those guys and we expect more great things to come from other young guys. But we have the best players here at the moment.”
The 28-year-old was part of the squad that played the last Afcon finals in Gabon two years ago, but failed to go beyond the group stages.
This time around, he feels that with enough preparations, the team will make a mark in Egypt.
To achieve that, he says they have to adequately prepare.
“Now we have to go back to our clubs and start playing regularly to be fit for the tournament. We should also try to have a good camp, and good preparatory matches for the tournament so that we prepare ourselves very well. The key to do well at the finals will be to have good preparations, start camp early as soon as possible and the rest will come into place if we prepare well,” Musona reckoned.