Musona boost

HARARE - Warriors kingpin Knowledge Musona yesterday completed his return to Zimbabwe colours when he joined camp ahead of Sunday’s crucial 2013 African Nations Cup qualifier away to Angola.

The Warriors travel to Luanda to face the Palancas Negras this weekend carrying a seemingly healthy 3-1 first leg lead from the first leg in Harare last month.

Musona, who plays for Germany Bundesliga side FC Augsburg, missed the first leg early last month after the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) bungled his call-up letter.

Augsburg refused to release the 22-year-old forward for the match, forcing Warriors coach Rahman Gumbo to look for other options.

Musona had previously quit international football in protest over allegations of “match-fixing” made against him in June by Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze.

He later unconditionally announced his comeback to the Warriors fold after initially demanding a public apology from Zifa as a condition for his return.

He missed the first leg in Harare due to the call-up mix-up, but yesterday the Norton-born talisman jetted into the capital well on time for the decisive qualifier in the Angolan capital at the weekend.

In the first leg, Zimbabwe found the back of the net through Angolan midfielder Mateus, who beat his own goalkeeper while star midfielders Khama Billiat and Archieford Gutu scored the other two goals.

The Palancas Negras pulled one back courtesy of their Turkey-based striker Djalma.    

Musona’s coming is welcome relief for Warriors coach Rahman Gumbo and the nation as a whole.

The former Kaizer Chiefs forward was in outstanding form for Augsburg on Friday in their Bundesliga 3-1 win over Werder Bremen.

Musona was in the thick of things before he was replaced by Milan Petrzel four minutes before fulltime.
The Zimbabwean provided the assist for Augsburg’s opening goal when he teed up Tobias Werner inside the box after two minutes.

He was also unlucky not to get on the score sheet after 63 minutes when he dragged his shot wide from the left.

By last night, the rest of the foreign-based players had arrived for camp with the exception of Arnold Chaka, Gutu, Esrom Nyandoro and Quincy Antipas.

Team management was hoping the quartet will join their teammates by late yesterday evening or this morning.

The rest of the local-based contingent had reported for camp except for the Dynamos trio of George Chigova, Denver Mukamba and Partson Jaure, who were still on their way back from Hwange.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of African Football (Caf) has requested for tight security in and around the November 11 Stadium, the venue of Sunday’s match.

Football Angola Federation (Faf), vice president of international relations and marketing, John Lusivikeno said: “The Confederation of African Football wants the match between the national team and the Warriors of Zimbabwe to be played under heavy security inside and outside the November 11 stadium.

“There are special security conditions we have received from Caf and they want Luanda to oversee the game in every way to make sure of the safety of players, referees, commissioners and supporters.”

Lusivikeno assured that Faf will be ready to put in all the necessary security at the 50 000-seater venue, which hosted the 2010 Afcon final.

Palancas Negras midfielder Geraldo, who arrived in Luanda yesterday morning, promised to help his country qualify for South Africa.

Geraldo has been absent from the Angola set-up this year but was recalled by coach Gustavo Ferrin to replace injured playmaker Gilberto.

“It will be a decisive game and hopefully I’m going to contribute to the best of my ability to win and guarantee our qualification for the finals,” the Parana midfielder told Jornal Dos Desportos.

Ferrin is pinning his hopes on the 20-year-old midfielder, who last played for the Palancas Negras over a year ago, to provide the spark to overhaul Zimbabwe’s lead.

The Angolans were also expecting their star player Manucho to arrive from his Spanish club Valladolid yesterday.

Manucho caused a lot of problems for the Warriors when he came on in the second half at Rufaro.

Injured Warriors captain and goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini, who will miss Sunday’s game has already warned his teammates to be cautious of the former Manchester United forward.

Meanwhile, Mzansi90, a fundraising committee set up to mobilise resources for the Warriors’ Angola trip, yesterday received a further $35 000 from three different companies.

BancABC donated $20 000, the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) contributed $10 000 while Helcraw — a company owned by CAPS United co-director Farai Jere — chipped in with $5 000.

Not to be left out was Aces Youth Academy, which donated $1 000.

“I can safely say now that we are hovering over $300 000,” committee chairperson George Manyaya said last night.

“But we are still appealing to more individuals and companies to do this for the sake of the nation.”

The committee was tasked with raising $500 000 to carter for camping, preparations and winning bonuses.

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