STAR striker Knowledge Musona will miss the first leg of Zimbabwe’s final 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Angola on Sunday after his German club Augsburg claimed he was injured.
Augsburg also accused the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) of sending their request for the player’s release too late for him to make travel arrangements.
Augsburg media and public relations officer Dominik Schmitz said on Friday: “It’s too late now. They did not invite the player at the right time so he is not going to Zimbabwe on this date.
“He is not training with the team at this moment. He is injured.”
Musona had indicated after the Burundi match on June 17 that he will not be available for the next assignments after ZIFA accused her being used former CEO Henrietta Rushwaya to undermine the association.
He was accused together with Ovidy Karuru, who has since been dropped from the Warriors set up for the Angola match.
But Musona’s lawyer clarified his position last week, insisting that the player was making himself available for selection by Warriors boss Rahman Gumbo.
Musona’s absence is a crushing blow to Zimbabwe as he has been the country’s most consistent performer in front of goal over the last two years.
Gumbo was already angry that ZIFA hiked gate charges for Sunday’s match from the usual $5 for the cheapest ticket to US$10. Gumbo – who is targeting the home fans to give his team a lift – fears supporters might stay away.
The Warriors boss also hinted he was unhappy over ZIFA’s communication with foreign teams over the release of players with Tinashe Nengomasha also still to be released by BidVest Wits who said ZIFA had not been in touch.
It had not been easy to resolve the issues, Gumbo said, because ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube and his CEO Jonathan Mashingaidze were both out of the country – attending a CAF congress in the Seychelles.
“The late arrival of players is an issue to do with ZIFA, and it’s something that we have to talk about. The problem is there is nobody around so I can only wait and will comment after discussions with the relevant authorities,” Gumbo said.
Despite concerns over Musona’s absence, Warriors winger Vusa Nyoni said the players in camp were pumped up for the challenge.
“The mood is good and we have settled well. The training sessions so far have gone well and we are psyched up for the match on Sunday,” he said.
“We are targeting reaching the 2013 finals and we want to go to South Africa next year so we are anxious to start this two match qualifier with a win this weekend.”
The former AmaZulu and Highlanders midfielder said teamwork was the key to success.
“We need to have a common goal and purpose and the same hunger to win at all cost. As a team, I believe that if we work together and keep our minds on the game and fight for every opportunity to get the ball into the back of the net we are sure to win this match,” he said.
On their opponents, Nyoni said: “Angola is a strong side from what we have seen from their performance at the 2012 CAN finals but we are not intimidated. It is a challenge to us to show that after our near miss to qualify last year we can fully utilise the opportunity this time around.
“Angola has a few internationals in their side who we meet as players in the European leagues some of us play in so we have an idea of what to expect.”
Angola beat Moroka Swallows 2-0 on Thursday night in a friendly match in Johannesburg.