BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
ZIMBABWE international midfielder Marshall Munetsi has bounced back into action ahead of the Warriors 2021 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers after a month-long injury lay off.
Since featuring in the 2-1 defeat to Lille, in which he was substituted and replaced by Moreto Cassama, the France-based utility player has been on the treatment table.
The midfielder, however, played a huge part in the 1-all draw against Lens on Saturday lasting the entire match on his return.
The former Orlando Pirates midfielder has been a key player at Reims since joining after an impressive performance at the 2019 Afcon finals held in Egypt.
His return will boost his team’s chances of survival in the Ligue 1 where they occupied 13th place with 29 points after the Saturday match.
What is crucial though, is his return to action as it coincides with the Warriors battle for qualification at the continental soccer show case to be staged in Cameroon in June.
While this is good news for Warriors coach Zdravko Logarušic, there are still worries over team captain Knowledge Musona, who has also been inactive for his Belgian club AS Eupen.
The Warriors skipper — a key member of the Belgian outfit, has not featured for the club since suffering an injury in the 4-1 defeat against Genk.
It is a major concern for the coach as he needs him the most because of his power and influence ahead of the crucial encounters against Botswana and Zambia next month.
That Kaizer Chiefs forward Khama Billiat is also injured, having last played on January 9 in the 2-0 defeat at home against Maritzburg only compounds the situation.
Algeria, with 10 points, have already booked a ticket to Cameroon while Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia will fight for the remaining slot in the group.
Zimbabwe, in second place in their group with five points, have all the advantage as they have an away fixture against Botswana on March 22 before taking on Zambia at home a week later. Botswana are third on four points with Zambia at the foot of the table with only three points.
With the top two teams qualifying for the tournament, the Warriors need a win in their match against Botswana to be guaranteed a place at the tournament.
Zimbabwe can, however, still afford to draw against Botswana and then beat Zambia in the final match to qualify.
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