BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
WARRIORS’ star forward Knowledge Musona announced his retirement from international football to bring an end to his 12 year flirtation with the Zimbabwe national team barely a month before his 32nd birthday.
The Aces Youth Academy graduate led the national team at the 2021 Afcon finals, which were held in Cameroon at the beginning of the year and made his final appearance in the 2 – 1 win over Guinea in the team’s game of the competition.
There was a lot of speculation regarding Musona’s future with the national team soon after the disappointing Afcon campaign as he pledged to soldier on with the team.
But the Fifa ban imposed on Zimbabwe over government interference in the running of the game in February may have forced Musona to call time on his international career.
Musona made his Warriors debut on March 3, 2010 and played his final game on January 18, 2022.
And by the time of his retirement Musona had represented the country at least 49 times and scored 24 goals in the process.
This week The Sports Hub takes a look at Musona’s career in Zimbabwe colours in numbers.
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1 – Hat trick
Musona recorded his only hat trick for Zimbabwe seven years after making his international debut in a match against Liberia on June 6 2017
It also marked Musona’s first match as the national team captain as Zimbabwe kick-started another successful Afcon qualifier campaign with an emphatic home win.
Musona gave Zimbabwe a 24th minute lead with a well taken goal from a Danny Phiri pass before doubling the scores five minutes into the second half from a Kudakwashe Mahachi cross.
He completed his hat trick in the 63rd minute
2 – Braces
Musona managed to score two goals in a match for the Warriors on two occasions. The first brace came in an Afcon qualifier against Mali, in only his sixth match for the Warriors on June 5 2011 at the National Sports Stadium
He opened the scoring in the 43rd minute from an Ovidy Karuru assist.
Musona ensured maximum points for Zimbabwe after netting a controversial injury time penalty
The forward scored another brace in a friendly encounter against neighbours South Africa six months later as Zimbabwe recorded a famous 2 – 1 in Harare.
3 – Afcon Cup Finals
Musona is among the elite class of players to have represented the country at three Afcon Cup finals. He was an integral part of the Zimbabwe team that qualified for three consecutive continental championships beginning in 2017 up to 2021.
His last appearance was in Cameroon in January this year in the 2021 edition which had to be rescheduled to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The former captain has eight matches under his belt at the continental championship and has managed two goals.
19 – Matches as Warriors captain
Musona captained Zimbabwe for 19-matches between June 2017 and January 2022. Zimbabwe recorded just five wins during his tenure as captain as well as five draws and nine defeats.
24 – Goals.
Musona’s 24 goals make him the second highest scorer for the Warriors after the least legendary striker Peter Ndlovu, who is believed to have netted at 35 goals for Zimbabwe in an international career that span a decade and a half.
6 – Assists
While he was prolific in front of goal for the Warriors, Musona simply preferred to finish the job instead of providing for others.
For all his creativity, Musona has a frugal six assists in national team colours despite playing mostly from the wings and as an attacking midfielder during his international career.
Interestingly three of his assists were to his childhood friend and fellow Aces Youth Soccer Academy graduate Khama Billiat with whom he formed a lethal partnership in national team colours
19 – Age on debut
Musona made his Warriors debut in a friendly match against Malawi in March 2010 when he was only 19 years, eight months and 10 days old. The Warriors won the match 2 – 1 courtesy of a brace by Tafadzwa Rusike as Musona played the entire 90 minutes.
Veteran coach Sunday Chidzambwa gave Musona his first warriors chance.
17 – Playing against Brazil
Musona is one of the 17 players, who have played against football powerhouse Brazil and the country hosted the South Americans ahead of the 2010 World Cup, which was hosted by South Africa.
The Brazil squad comprised famous players such as Kaka, Dani Alves, Robinho, Luis Fabiano, Filipe Melo, Lucio, Ramirez and Julio Baptista, to mention but a few.
Brazil won 3 – 0 through goals from Robinho, Elano and Michel Basto as they enjoyed an afternoon at the National Sports Stadium.