Dutch publication has paid the ultimate compliment to Knowledge Musona by describing the talismanic Warriors’ skipper as a “great hero in Zimbabwe’’ as the football world continues to salute the Smiling Assassin after his sensational 2019 Nations Cup hat-trick against Liberia at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Musona, who turns 27 in a week’s time on June 21, made history on Sunday when he became the first Warriors’ skipper to score an AFCON hat-trick in the 107 Nations Cup matches — in both the qualifiers and the finals — which the senior national football team have played since making their debut in this tournament with a 1-0 win over Malawi in Blantyre in 1981.
He also became only the third Warriors’ player to score a hat-trick in an AFCON qualifier, slipping into the big shoes left by Agent Sawu who scored three in a 4-0 rout of Eritrea at the National Sports Stadium and Vitalis Takawira who also scored three goals in a 4-1 stunning demolition of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon on January 22, 1995.
Sunday also marked the first time that a single Warriors player has scored all the goals, in which the team has won by, at least, a three-goal margin with the late Paul Gundani hitting a screamer to add to Takawira’s hat-trick, in that 4-1 humiliation of the Indomitable Lions, while the late Adam Ndlovu added another goal when Sawu scored those three goals against Eritrea.
Musona has now scored FOUR goals in his last two AFCON matches, SIX goals in the last four AFCON games he has played in, at least, more than 12 minutes in the Warriors colours, SIX goals in the last four consecutive AFCON home matches for the Warriors and FIVE goals in the last three AFCON home matches for his national team.
When Cuthbert Malajila scored against Malawi in a 2-1 victory for the Warriors in Blantyre in June 2015 in a 2017 AFCON qualifier, it ended a five-year wait for another Warrior, who wasn’t Musona, to score for the senior national football team in a World Cup/Nations Cup qualifier away from home.
Until then, all the goals the Warriors had since 2010 on the road in either a World Cup or a Nations Cup qualifier had been scored by Musona who was on target in the 1-1 draw against Liberia in the opening 2012 Nations Cup qualifier in Monrovia, scored in the 1-2 defeat at the hands of Cape Verde in the same qualifiers in Praia, scored in the 1-2 defeat away in Burundi in a 2013 Nations Cup qualifier and scored in the 1-2 defeat in a 2014 World Cup qualifier against Egypt in Alexandria.
Musona’s four goals on the road, has been the best individual performance by a Warrior, in matches away from home, in the past 12 years with Peter Ndlovu, the greatest Warrior of them all, second on two goals.
Now, after his hat-trick against Liberia, in which he also hit the crossbar with a beauty of an effort, Musona appears to have finally captured the attention of the world with an influential Dutch publication describing him as a “great hero in Zimbabwe.
FootballPrimeur, the influential Dutch football website founded in 2004, is one of the most visited sites on the game’s news in the Netherlands and in August 2011 such was its unique appeal that an average 150 000 readers visited the site every day.
And this week the site paid special tribute to Musona. ‘’Knowledge Musona was the great hero in Zimbabwe against Liberia with a hat-trick as the KV Oostende attacker led his country to a 3-0 win,’’ the website reported. ‘’Musona had about five attempts (at goal).’’
And, on the world’s most visited and most influential football website, BBC Sport, the editors were charmed with Musona’s brilliance so much they even chose to relegate Ghanaian forward Asamoah Gyan’s 50th international goal, in the five-goal hammering of Ethiopia, into the background.
“Zimbabwe captain Knowledge Musona hit a hat-trick as his new-look national side beat Liberia 3-0 in their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Harare on Sunday,” reported BBC Sport.
‘’Knowledge Musona took over the Zimbabwe captaincy for the Group G game against Liberia after Willard Katsande — who had skippered the Warriors at this year’s Nations Cup in Gabon — was dropped. “Belgium-based Musona’s first strike came on 24 minutes, with Zimbabwe taking that one-goal advantage into the break. “His second came just five minutes into the second half and the Warriors captain was able to celebrate his hat-trick with a goal in the 63rd minute.
‘’It was Zimbabwe’s first hat-trick in 13 years — Peter Ndlovu was the last man to achieve the feat. Ghana also heralded in a new era as coach Kwesi Appiah returned for a second spell in charge of the Black Stars who duly began their Group F campaign with a 5-0 thrashing of Ethiopia in Kumasi. “Captain Asamoah Gyan began the rout with a landmark strike in the 10th minute — his 50th goal for his country.’’
The Belgian KW website also noted Musona’s heroics and described him as KV Oostende’s best player. “While most soccer players enjoyed a good holiday, Knowledge Musona had to play a qualifying game for the Africa Cup 2019 on Sunday with Zimbabwe against Liberia (and) KV Oostende’s best player scored a hat-trick,’’ it noted.
Musona’s club KV Oostende also celebrated their forward’s heroics on their official website.
‘’There was also a KVO hat-trick to note. Knowledge Musona, for the first time captain of Zimbabwe, was in control of Liberia alone,’’ the club said. ‘’His three goals scored in a 3-0 win and ‘The Smiling Assassin’ also hit crossbar.’’
Voetbal Belgie also hailed Musona’s heroics in propelling the Warriors to their victory against Liberia on Sunday. It has been a good time for Musona who in November last year was showered with praises by his club who described the Smiling Assassin as the most consistent and impressive player at the team this season after the Warriors’ talismanic striker’s impressive start to the domestic campaign.
The forward was also rewarded with an extension of his contract, which also comes with an improved package, which will see him remaining contracted to KV Oostende until 2020 in the event he doesn’t move to a bigger European league.
“Our Smiling Assassin has so far, perhaps, been the most consistent KVO (KV Oostende) player of the season and the likeable Zimbabwean has now been rewarded with a contract extension,” the Belgian club said on their official website.