- 3 Afcon finals
- 45 caps, 24 goals
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
Speculation over Warriors captain Knowledge Musona’s international career punctuated the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Cameroon, which ended last month.
He later hinted that he could quit, but his silence since then could be taken to mean that he decided to stay put.
But it is probably over now for the 31-year-old legend after Zimbabwe’s suspension from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (Fifa) family over government interference left the Warriors in the cold.
The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) was asked to reinstate the Zifa board which it suspended last year, but the sports regulatory body said it was not in a hurry to do so.
The suspension of Zimbabwe from international football engagements by the world soccer governing body will have profound effects which will see the international careers of several footballers including Musona ending prematurely.
Musona is the longest serving member of the Warriors from the current crop, with 45 caps (according to Transfermarkt) to his name which yielded 24 goals and three Afcon tournament finals.
Although the 31-year-old has reached the twilight of his career, the 2023 Afcon tournament was largely expected to be his swansong.
He probably would have loved to reach half a century caps and may have been thinking about a fourth dance at the African football showpiece.
For someone who has served his country with both pride and distinction as leader of the troops, and has played the most matches at the Afcon tournament compared to other Zimbabwean players, it was expected that he would choose a befitting platform to bid farewell.
But with the Warriors unlikely to play any international football this year, it looks like he has been denied the opportunity to leave the stage in style.
The SRC is banking on the planned emergency general meeting set for April 3, which could be key in resolving the current impasse.
That meeting could come too late to save Zimbabwe’s place in pot 3 of the 2023 Afcon qualifiers.
With the preliminary round qualifiers set to be played at the end of this month, the draw for the group stages is likely to follow soon after and unless SRC makes a dramatic change of heart, Zimbabwe will not be part of the draw.
SRC said it was looking to end the Zifa cleansing exercise by end of year.
“Most of the things that they are asking us to reverse such as the lifting of Zifa board suspension is now beyond our control because the suspended board approached the Administrative Court challenging its suspension and some of the issues such as the sexual harassment accusations are still under police investigation,” said SRC chairperson Gerald Mlotshwa on Monday.
“So we can’t ask for the courts or the police to stop doing their constitutional mandates to please Fifa. It’s beyond our control and we can’t do anything about it, but we will allow the due process to take its course.”
Fifa has demanded the reinstatement of the Felton Kamambo-led Zifa board as a condition for readmission into the international football family.
If Zimbabwe were to miss the 2023 finals, they may return for the 2025 finals and by that time Musona, who turns 32 this year, will be 35.
Other senior players, who include Marvelous Nakamba (28) and Kuda Mahachi (28), would have reached the twilight of their international careers by the time Zimbabwe resume participation in international football competitions.
Marshal Munetsi (25) and Tino Kadewere (26) will probably be still around, but they will miss out on an opportunity to stake a claim for a place at the continental football extravaganza in Ivory Coast next year.
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