A tale of two strikers
By Robson Sharuko
Former Zimbabwe international Cephas Chimedza believes the arrival of Swedish coach Par Zetterberg in the Anderlecht coaching staff next month could help spark into life the career of Warriors captain Knowledge Musona at the Belgian soccer giants.
While the Smiling Assassin has struggled to nail down a regular starting place at Anderlecht since arriving in the European summer this year from KV Oostende, the star of his compatriot Macauley Bonne is shining brightly in England.
The 23-year-old member of the British Brigade has scored 17 goals in 24 appearances for non-league side Leyton Orient to add to the 25 goals he scored last season after arriving from Halifax.
Bonne, who already has a goal in Zimbabwe colours, is now being dubbed the next Jamie Vardy, with The Sun newspaper reporting yesterday that Leicester City are leading the race to secure his signature for about 500 000 pounds.
Vardy rose from relative obscurity in the non-league playing for Halifax to become a Premiership star who helped the Foxes defy 5000-1 odds to become champions of England in one of the finest Cinderella tales in the history of the game.
The Flying Foxes believe Bonne, who could feature for the Warriors next match in March, is on a similar path to greatness and leads a race that also features Newcastle United, Crystal Palace, Fulham and Huddersfield.
English Championship sides Norwich, Stoke City, Nottingham Forest, Queens Park Rangers and Sheffield United are also reportedly chasing his signature.
While Bonne is flying, Musona has been kept on the fringes of the Anderlecht side by coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck.
There are genuine fears this could have a negative impact on his Warriors’ performance, especially after the talisman, who is usually consistent in the colours of his country, was largely anonymous in the last AFCON qualifier against Liberia.
The Warriors face a defining match in their quest for back-to-back appearances at the AFCON finals when they host Congo-Brazzaville in March next year with any result, save for defeat, enough to book them a ticket to the showcase.
Coach Sunday Chidzambwa has stood by his influential skipper despite the challenges which Musona has faced since his breakthrough move from modest side KV Oostende to the most successful Belgian side in European competitions.
Musona has made just three league starts this season and five substitute appearances for Anderlecht while also scoring one goal for his new side with his goal-scoring average, which stood at 0.34 goals per game at Oostende, having shrunk to 0.05 goals per match at the Belgian giants.
Until his move to Anderlecht, Musona averaged 25 games per season at Oostende and a touch over eight goals, on average, every season in a role where he was played largely as a wide man in the team’s attack.
Chimedza believes the Warriors skipper’s challenges at Anderlecht have nothing to do with his capacity to add value to the team but could be part of a Cold War between the coach and the club’s billionaire owner Couke who bought the team in December last year.
Worth an estimated net value of $1.2 billion, the 53-year-old billionaire is a year younger than his coach and bought Anderlecht after five years as majority shareholder and chairman of Oostende.
Couke was impressed with the way Musona delivered at Oostende, when they worked together there, and brought him to Anderlecht after he completed the acquisition of the Belgian giants.
The billionaire businessman also has a huge stake in French Ligue One side Lille and has also invested into professional cycling.
Chimedza believes the Anderlecht coach, who won a league title with Gent three years ago having been fired at Genk six years earlier after a poor start, was not amused with the arrival of a player brought in by the club owner.
This, according to the former CAPS United and Dynamos Star, who now lives in Belgium after a lengthy playing career in that country, has led to boardroom battles and Musona has become a victim in the vicious fights.
“Coach versus president fight and he (Musona) is the one paying the price,” Chimedza tweeted yesterday after concerns were raised on Twitter about the Warriors skipper’s lack of regular game time.
“The president likes to be involved a lot. Like bringing in players of his choice and coming to talk to players and crediting himself when it’s good going.
“KM (Knowledge Musona) wasn’t on the list of players the coach wanted.
“Good thing for Knowledge is that the team is neither playing well nor winning.
“A club legend is coming in January to be the assistant coach, so, I don’t see the coach staying long.”
That coach is Zetterberg, who spent most of his career playing for Anderlecht between 1986 and 1991, and was twice crowned Belgium Footballer of the Year.
The 48-year-old Swede has been recruited to be part of the backroom staff at Anderlecht from next month and Chimedza believes the arrival of a coach who used to be a creative force during his career could help Musona get more game time at the club.
Zetterberg is highly rated at Anderlecht and played in Belgium at the same time Moses Chunga had a base there at E. Aalst with the Swede winning three league championships at the Belgian powerhouse.
He returns to a side that has struggled to impose itself this season and who were forced to fire coach Rene Weiler in September last year after a poor start to the defence of their Belgian title with only two wins in seven games.
Anderlecht haven’t fared any better this year and are fourth on the table in the regular season, eight points adrift of leaders Genk, with nine wins, four draws and five losses heading into the winter break.
The league will break after round 21 during the Christmas holidays and resume on January 18 next year.
While Musona has struggled so far to impress his coach, Tanzanian hotshot Mbwana Samatta has been in terrific form for Genk and has 10 goals under his belt sitting second in the race for the Golden Boot.
Chimedza believes Musona requires regular game time at club level so that he remains in peak condition for national team duties given his talismanic status for the Warriors.
He said while all the other Warriors players were important, Musona is the one who usually makes the difference for the team.
“Every team has such a player, it doesn’t mean others are less important but you know if that certain individual is on fire it even gives a boost to the whole team,” he said. The Herald