By Eddie Chikamhi
Warriors skipper Knowledge Musona will be under the spotlight in the coming weeks as he has to prove to the Belgian giants Anderlecht that they have to keep him after being stalked by a huge possibility that he could be offloaded this January.
The 28-year-old is among a group of players targeted for a clear-out this month after failing to impress in his debut season with the side.
The Zimbabwe skipper has been forced to endure one of his most frustrating episodes in his career as he has apparently struggled to nail a starting place at Anderlecht since he moved from local rivals KV Oostende last year.
According to Belgian newspapers, an unnamed American Major League Soccer club is reportedly keen to sign the $2.3m striker during the current transfer window with a number of options which include a return to South Africa also being touted.
Musona, however, is keen to stay on and to show his confidence as he was part of the squad that boarded the plane on Monday for the team’s winter training camp in Spain.
His teammates Luka Adzic, Kristal Abazaj, Abdul Dante, who are also among those on the firing line, did not make the trip.
Musona’s confidence has been boosted by the appointment of a new coach Fred Rutten who has promised to give every player a chance to prove himself.
Although the January transfer remains a huge possibility, the club’s new technical director Frank Arnesen, who has previously served as director of football at English Premiership clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, said Musona and other players who were sidelined by the previous coach will have an opportunity to fight for their Anderlecht careers.
“My principle is that everyone must have a chance to show that we need him. My mission is obviously also to strengthen the team from the winter transfer window in consultation with the coach,” he said.
Musona had a difficult time under the previous coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck who froze him out of the team for the most part of the season.
Since his transfer from Oostende to Anderlecht he has made only eight appearances and managing only one goal and in the process eclipsed by Belgian Landry Diamata (13 goals) and Ivan Santini of Croatia (11). His last league appearance dates back to the end of October.
Yet he has remained a key member of the Zimbabwe national team which is on the verge of qualifying for the 2019 African Cup of Nations finals. He is the leading scorer for Zimbabwe in the qualifiers with four goals to his name.
The qualifiers will resume in March when the Warriors host Congo-Brazzaville in a game that they need at least a draw to seal their players to the finals set for Egypt this June.
Probably by then, Musona will be having a new team.
Apart from the unnamed American team, which is believed to be Orlando City, there have also been another option to return to South Africa’s Kaizer Chiefs although the talented forward last month ruled that possibility out for now.
Belgium’s biggest-selling national daily newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws also suggested that Musona together with his fellow out-of-favour teammates at Anderlecht, Ryota Morioka and Zinho Gano, could be set for January loan moves to bottom-of-the-table side Waasland-Beveren.
This move, however, is unlikely to happen as Waasland-Beveren believe Musona, who signed a four-year deal at Anderlecht last May, would be too expensive for the time being.
Musona apparently does not want to make a move that could be seen as taking steps backwards, according to the Anderlecht fans website.
“Knowledge Musona still wants to prove himself at RSC Anderlecht. There is interest from America for the Zimbabwean, but for the moment he does not want to go into that.
“With the arrival of a new trainer, the attacker hopes to force a place in the starting eleven,” wrote Anderlecht supporters website.
Another newspaper, Het Nieuwsblad, also reported that his former Belgian club KV Oostende are angling for his signature but the deal would depend on KV Oostende’s willingness to meet Anderlecht’s financial demands. The Herald.