By Sports Reporter
THE Warriors technical team is facing an anxious wait over the availability of injured star forwards Knowledge Musona and Khama Billiat ahead of Zimbabwe’s crucial 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia between March 22 and 30.
The dependable duo is racing against time for fitness ahead of Zimbabwe’s decisive qualifiers following injuries they picked up while in action for their respective clubs last month.
Belgium-based Musona is recovering from a knee injury at KAS Eupen, while Billiat cracked his leg bone and has returned to the gym for some light exercise with his South African Club Kaizer Chiefs.
Although Musona recently started light training, it remains unclear when the Warriors captain will return to action having already missed six matches for his club in the Belgian top-flight league.
There are also fears that Billiat is also set to be short of competitive match fitness as he is expected to be fully recovered early in March, just a couple of weeks before the important AFCON qualifiers.
Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic, who will be desperate to have all his stars available as he seeks to put the disappointment of the CHAN campaign, admitted that the injured pair will be key to his plans for the AFCON qualifiers.
“They are key players in this team. Knowledge is the captain and they are a good partnership. I hope they recover in time for the assignments and I also hope other players don’t get affected by injuries because our game planning will be affected considering the few players we have who are active at the moment,” Logarusic said.
“We check on them constantly, and I understand Billiat has started light training, which is good news to us, but I pray that he won’t be rushed. Musona also tells us that he is under treatment.
Logarusic said he is pleased by the return of France-based utility Marshall Munetsi to competitive action for his club Stade de Reims last weekend after a month-long injury layoff.
Munetsi missed the back-to-back qualifiers against Algeria in November last year due to injury but is set to reclaim his place in the Warriors starting line-up next month.
“Marshal recently returned to action after injury and this time we hope to have him because he was not around when we played against Algeria last year.”
Zimbabwe are second in Group H and will play two games inside one week against Botswana (away) and Zambia at home needing positive results in order to qualify for their third successive AFCON finals.
Algeria, with 10 points, have already booked a ticket to Cameroon while Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia will fight for the remaining slot in the group.
Zimbabwe, in second place in their group with five points, have all the advantage as they have an away fixture against Botswana on March 22 before taking on Zambia at home a week later.
Botswana are third on four points with Zambia at the foot of the table with only three points.
With the top two teams qualifying for the tournament, the Warriors need a win in their match against Botswana to be guaranteed a place at the tournament.
Zimbabwe can, however, still afford to draw against Botswana and then beat Zambia in the final match to qualify.