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Musona bounces back

by Staff reporter
28 Feb 2021 at 08:54hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE have received a major injury boost ahead of next month's decisive 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) football qualifiers with Warriors captain Knowledge Musona expected to make a long-awaited return from a knee injury in KAS Eupen's Belgian Pro League away match at  Sint-Truiden VV today.

Musona's fitness was one of the major talking points when Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic announced his provisional squad for the Afcon qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia in the last week of next month.

The 30-year-old influential Zimbabwe captain last featured for KAS Eupen in their 4-1 away defeat against Genk on January 6. Musona was substituted just 30 minutes into the match due to injury after being involved in a collision with Genk goalkeeper Danny Vukovic.

His absence in the Eupen lineup has been felt with the Belgian club winning just two of their last eight league matches while he has been away.

KAS Eupen coach Benat San Jose, however, expressed his delight on Friday after revealing that the Zimbabwe international had fully recovered from the knee injury after resuming training last week.

Speaking during a pre-match press conference yesterday, the 41-year-old Spanish coach could not hide his excitement over Musona's imminent return, describing the Aces Youth Soccer Academy product as a "a special and important player".

"He is training very well and it bodes well for the future. He is a special and important player. He also brings so much more in attack. His return is good news," said the Pandas coach.

San Jose also declared that his charges would be aiming to collect all three points against Sint-Truiden VV as they look to steer clear of the relegation zone. Eupen are currently in 14th position on the 18-team log and seven points clear of Royal Excel Mouscron, who occupy the last relegation slot.

Musona has been at the centre of Zimbabwe's qualification for the last two editions held in Gabon and Egypt and his return is a major boost to the nation's hopes of sealing a third successive qualification.

After overcoming a difficult spell at his parent club Anderlecht, Musona has rediscovered his form for both club and country.

He has provided two assists in four qualifying games for the Warriors and in his last match for the country, scored a gem of a goal from a free-kick in the 2-2 draw against African champions Algeria.

The Zimbabwe international has also made himself a key figure at Eupen, scoring four goals and providing two assists on his second loan spell at the club this season.

While Musona appears set to feature for the Warriors next month, there are fears that his strike partner Khama Billiat will miss the crucial matches despite recently starting his rehabilitation process.

Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt last week cast huge doubts that the talismanic forward would be fit for the upcoming matches after insisting that he still needs time to come back to full fitness.

The 30-year-old Billiat suffered a leg fracture during Chiefs' defeat to Maritzburg United last month, but the Warriors technical team is still hopeful that he recovers in time for the last two qualifiers.

"He is pretty much doing non-weight bearing training which is basically upper body strength stuff. Hopefully we get him back in good health again, but it's gonna be sometime," Hunt said.

In addition to the injury concerns, the Warriors are also still sweating over the availability of some key players based in England due to the stringent Covid-19 regulations enforced by British authorities for entrance into their country.

Aston Villa midfield enforcer Marvelous Nakamba, Admiral Muskwe (Wycombe), Bournemouth full-back Jordan Zemura and Luton Town's Brendan Galloway could be affected by the Covid-19-induced travel restrictions.

There are also lingering doubts over the availability of the USA-based duo of goalkeeper Tatenda Mkuruva and defender Tendai Jirira as well as Spain-based goalkeeper Martin Mapisa.

Source - the standard