BY FORTUNE MBELE
A GERMANY-BASED journalist and football analyst has provided an insight into why Warriors’ skipper Knowledge Musona failed to make an impact in the Bundesliga following his breakthrough in 2011.
Musona played for TSG Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga between 2011 and 2012, where he was limited to just 16 appearances and failed to score a single goal before he was loaned out to Augsburg in the same league and featured 14 times for the team, but his name did not appear on the scoresheet.
With all his talents, football fans have tried to find answers as to why Musona struggled that much considering he was probably at the prime of his career and seemed destined for success in Europe.
Kres Harrington, who works for DW News in Germany, in an interview on South Africa’s Soccer Laduma Radio in a programme dubbed The Bundesliga Connection, Tuesday said the young Musona could have been affected by a cocktail of issues ranging from culture shock, home-sickness and the Bundesliga’s approach to young African talent.
Musona joined TSG Hoffenheim from South African giants Kaizer Chiefs, aged 21, in 2011 and played only 16 games and in two years, he was loaned to Augsburg and back to Amakhosi before he eventually moved to Belgium’s Oostende in 2015.
He could have tried his luck in England, following Queens Park Rangers’ interest, but he opted to return to South Africa, in a move that shocked many.
“It did not work out for him (Musona) and why is that? A lot of people wonder. I think the narrative is he was punching above his weight. That is what his former coach in Zimbabwe (Norman Mapeza) had to say. The reality is that the Bundesliga doesn’t have the best history in terms of developing talent that is not European. Sometimes home sickeness issues are part of the reason too, you have to put that in play. Culture shock as well,” Harrington said.
He opined that Musona could have been more successful had he joined other European leagues such as the French Ligue 1 or the Netherlands topflight, which give young players from outside Europe more time to develop.
“Musona spent time at Hoffenheim and Augsburg between 2011 and 2014 and having been in those cities I think culture shock could have played a part in why he did not produce. Those are the only two teams he has never scored a goal, which begs a question and also competition is a factor,” Harrington said.
“Roberto Firmino came six months after to Hoffenheim and we know where Firmino is now and in terms of Germany working out, Musona was loaned back to Chiefs and he scored eight goals.”
Harrington contended that the Bundesliga was too competitive at the time and Musona should have joined other more accommodating leagues in Europe.
“So (it was a case of) opportunity punching above your weight and giving yourself time to develop. The Bundesliga was very competitive during that period. That is when Bayern Munich and Dortmund were competing for the Champions League. So that speaks of competitiveness that was in the Bundesliga. Other leagues like France and the Netherlands have a history of developing young African talent. The Bundesliga is not quite there yet,” he said.
Musona settled for Belgium, where he played for Oostende from 2015 to 2018 when he moved to giants Anderlecht, where he also struggled with an injury and was loaned to Lokeren and Eupen, with the latter signing him in January.
He is a key figure in the Warriors’ current World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations campaigns.