Musona tracing Peter's footsteps

HARARE - Warriors captain Knowledge Musona grabbed all the headlines following his hat-trick against Liberia in Sunday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier at the National Sports Stadium.

Following his five-star performance against the Lone Stars, comparisons between Musona and legendary Warriors forward Peter Ndlovu have emerged among Zimbabwean football followers.

Since making his debut for the national team in March 2010 in an international friendly against South Africa, Musona has gone onto to score 20 goals for the Warriors in 30 appearances for the senior national team.

With such a prolific scoring rate, the 26-year-old striker is now only 18 goals behind Zimbabwe’s record scorer Ndlovu, who achieved the feat in a century of caps for the Warriors.

Between 1991 and 2007, Ndlovu was the Warriors’ leading talisman with his blistering pace and an eye for goal.

Born in Bulawayo 44 years ago, Ndlovu signed English top flight side Coventry City in 1991 when he was only 18 after having impressed for Highlanders.

Ndlovu, in his heyday, was known as the “Flying Elephant”, and today remains a cult hero among Coventry supporters for the stunning hat-trick he scored against Liverpool at Anfield as his side beat the Reds 3-2 in the 1994-95 season.

It was the first hat-trick at Anfield by a visiting player since 1962 scored by Norwich forward Terry Allcock, a record that was shattered some 14 years later by former Arsenal forward Andrei Arshavin in April 2009.

After leaving Coventry, Ndlovu went on to play for Championship sides Birmingham City, Huddersfield Town and Sheffield United.

The former Zimbabwe captain is among the longest-serving African players to play in England after spending 14 years while at Coventry, Birmingham, Huddersfield and Sheffield.

In the English Premiership alone, Ndlovu played consistently for Coventry for 11 years which is no mean feat. In the twilight of his career, Ndlovu returned to South Africa where he played for Mamelodi Sundowns and Thanda Royal Zulu before coming back to Zimbabwe where he ended his career at Black Mambas.

However, it was his exploits in the green and gold of the Warriors that earned Ndlovu a permanent place in the hearts of most Zimbabweans.

On most occasions, he would arrive from England a few hours before Warriors matches and would go on to terrorise opposition defenders. All the great African sides of yesteryear like Egypt, Cameroon, Guinea and Ghana would have headaches trying to contain Ndlovu when playing against the Warriors.

Ndlovu also became the first Warriors captain to lead the team to their first major finals when Zimbabwe qualified for the 2004 Afcon tournament held in Tunisia.

He was also the captain when the side also qualified for the following edition of the Afcon finals held in Egypt in 2006. Musona has undoubtedly shown that he has the potential to reach the same heights that Ndlovu achieved for the Warriors.

Having been developed into a top striker at the famed Aces Youth Soccer Academy, Musona was snapped up by Kaizer Chiefs having impressed for the Young Warriors during the 2009 Cosafa Under-20 Championship.

Without any previous top-flight experience in the Zimbabwean premiership, Musona went on to become a sensation at Naturena.

It did not take time before he attracted the interest of European clubs and in 2011 he was signed by Bundesliga club Hoffenheim.

Adjusting to life in Germany proved difficult for the Zimbabwean and after failing to score any goals; Musona was loaned out of Augsburg.

The change of team did not bring the desired results and in a bid to revive his career, the Zimbabwean returned to Chiefs on loan during the 2013-14 season.

Despite his struggles for form in Germany, Musona continued to do the business for the Warriors as he would find the back of the net regularly for the national team.

At the start of 2015, Musona joined Belgium side KV Oostende where he found his feet in the modest Juplier League.

In 68 appearances for the KV Oostende, Musona has scored 26 occasions.

Breaking into the top tier European leagues has proved to be a tough task for Musona, having failed to settle in the Bundesliga.

This is where Ndlovu will always have an edge over his compatriot because for over a decade, the former Highlanders forward was a force to reckon with in the English Premier League.

However, Musona, who turns 27 in a fortnight, still has time on his side to score more goals for the Warriors.

At the moment, his scoring rate for the Warriors stands at 0,66 goals per game which means he needs at least another 28 caps to be able to reach Ndlovu’s tally.

At this rate, Musona will reach 38 goals in just around 60 caps.

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