End of an era

15 Oct, 2021 - 00:10 0 Views
End of an era Knowledge Musona

The ManicaPost

Ray Bande
Senior Reporter

WARRIORS striking combination of Knowledge Musona and Khama Billiat, which burst onto the scene with so much promise has finally reached its twilight zone with the sad reality of not having been able to play at the global showpiece – the FIFA World Cup.

Zimbabwe remain rooted at the basement of their World Cup qualifying group, and bowed out of contention for a place at Qatar 2022 after losing by a solitary goal at home against the Black Stars of Ghana on Tuesday afternoon.

And after that debacle, the talismanic duo of Musona and Billiat are now set to join the long list of Zimbabwe’s exceptionally talented players that include legendary, Peter Ndlovu, and Benjani Mwaruwari, among many others, who all came and went without taking the nation to the World Cup, 41 years after independence.

Currently at 31, both Musona and Billiat can only be lucky to find a place in the Warriors set up three years to come after turning 34 when the national team embarks on the next qualifiers of the global quadrennial football tournament.

In fact, the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon could be the last international assignment for the highly rated duo if the coach who will be in office by then chooses to include them.

 

Khama Billiat

Billiat joined the Aces Youth Soccer Academy at 10 years, and was joined about five years later by Musona, marking the beginning of a close friendship that reflected itself on the field of play as the two became our supermen.

South African-based Mutare football benefactor, James Lunga Meya, concurred that it is highly unlikely that Musona and Billiat’s international career will go beyond next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

Meya, who is fondly referred to as Hwetu in football circles in the eastern border city, bemoaned lack of robust junior football policy, and said this might see the national team finding it difficult to replace the ageing stars.

“I think it will be farfetched to imagine Khama Billiat and Knowledge Musona being part of the next World Cup qualifiers. They are both on the wrong side of 30, and we all know that our players hardly go far after reaching the age of 30.

“They have done their part, and we all appreciate what they have done for our game. No doubt, they have made a difference and they are an integral part of our national team. However, there is a time to come and a time to go. Their time to go is fast approaching. I do not see their international careers going beyond the Africa Cup of Nations next year. That is likely to be the end of it.

“The sad thing about our situation is that when you try to think of who will succeed them, you will have a headache. We have not had an active junior policy in place that will ensure continuity for our national team stars. Imagine we still have teams even in the domestic Premiership that do not have sound junior teams. It is sad, and these are the things ZIFA should be preoccupied with,” said Meya.

The construction entrepreneur, said Zimbabwe should take a leaf from its neighbours, South Africa who have now injected young blood into the Bafana Bafana set up.

“I think South Africa can give Zimbabwe very good lessons about progression. Bafana Bafana now have a squad mainly made up of youngsters, and look at how they are performing. These are simple football management techniques that we also need to employ if we are a serious football playing nation,” said Meya.

To their credit, both Musona and Billiat have given Warriors’ fans something to cheer their spirits on a number of occasions, both at their clubs and national team.

Musona made his first-ever appearance at the Africa Cup of the Nations on January 15, 2017, but could not last long as he was substituted in the 11th minute due to an injury.
He went on to miss the second match, but returned in the final Group B game and scored.

On June 11, 2017, Musona scored his first international hat-trick against Liberia at the National Sports Stadium to join other Warriors hat-trick heroes like former skipper, Peter Ndlovu and Vitalis Takawira.

On the other hand, Billiat had his own fair share of success stories on the field of play.

Billiat helped South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns win the league and CAF Champions League titles, apart from being named among the top players during the African Awards in 2016.

 

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