BY HENRY MHARA IN CAIRO, EGYPT
WARRIORS captain Knowledge Musona has accepted responsibility for Zimbabwe’s defeat against Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) opener at the Cairo International Stadium on Friday as he remains confident that the team will progress to the knockout stage of the competition.
The Sunday Chidzambga- coached side put up a brilliant show in front of a capacity crowd, but were beaten 1-0 with Ibrahim Trezeguet scoring the goal after
capitalising on a mistake by Musona.
The Anderlecht forward, on his 29th birthday, gave away possession to the dangerous Trezeguet just outside the box, exposing his teammates, who were out of
their defensive shape.
Trezeguet managed to exploit the acres of space left behind by fullback Tendayi Darikwa, who had galloped forward in anticipation of a pass from Musona, to charge into the box and drifted inwardly before curling a beauty past a stretching goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda.
Following the defeat, Musona, normally the team’s saviour, apologetically said the blame should be placed on his head.
“It’s my responsibility to accept that I lost possession in a dangerous area,” Musona said.
“If you are playing big teams like Egypt, you cannot afford to lose possession in those positions because definitely they will take advantage like they did.
“It’s unfortunate that it happened and we lost the match. But football is a game of losing and gaining possession, so it’s something that happens in the game
and these are the things we take, learn from and try to improve in our next game.”
But Musona is confident that the team will bounce back in their next game.
He himself had an off-day in office, but he takes encouragement from the performance of his teammates, who put up a gallant show that has earned Zimbabwe some
respect on the continent.
After Friday’s gutsy performance, which on paper was the Warriors’ toughest group game, Zimbabwe will face-off with Uganda on Wednesday. This is the match they
are expected to win to brighten their chances of making history by progressing to the next round.
While the Warriors now look favourites to win the tie after the big performance against the hosts, Musona says the team will not take the Cranes lightly.
“For me, there is no small or easier game because all the teams that qualified to be here are good, so we will not underestimate anyone,” he said.
“Of course, Egypt are ranked the highest in our group, but for me, we are actually the underdogs and all our games are big because we are the lowest ranked
team [in the group].
“We will have to try and do our best and try to collect maximum points.”
There was mutiny in the Warriors’ camp on the eve of the opening match when the players refused to train in protest over unpaid allowances.
When asked on the impact the strike had on their preparations and performance against the Pharaohs, Musona responded: “From the way we played, I think you all
saw that we were focused. In any association there are some things that need to be fixed, but I can tell you that we were not distracted because we played a
very good game and almost got a draw, so we cannot say it was a big issue for us. We are actually really focused and looking forward to the next match.”
Musona, who was substituted late in the game, would be desperate to improve in the remaining matches and help the team achieve its goals of qualifying to the
Personally, for Musona, he is desperate to do well and hopefully impress the European scouts that are watching the tournament in search of new talent.
The Smiling Assassin has publicly stated that he is unhappy at his Belgium club Anderlecht and just like many other players here, he might be using this Afcon
tournament to find a new job elsewhere.