HARARE – Warriors interim coach Norman Mapeza has handed striker Knowledge Musona the armband to lead the team in Sunday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Liberia at home.
Ngezi Platinum Stars defender Partson Jaure will be Musona’s deputy for the clash against the Lone Stars at the National Sports Stadium.
Musona takes over the captaincy from Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Willard Katsande, who captained the Warriors at the 2017 Afcon finals in Gabon earlier this year but was overlooked for selection ahead of this tie.
Commenting on the appointments, Mapeza said the KV Oostende striker has shown enough maturity to lead the squad.
“He has shown some great leadership qualities. Also he is someone who is much disciplined and his commitment to the national team is superb,” Mapeza said.
“Jaure will be his assistant. We have tried to strike a balance and I think it’s good for the youngsters to assume responsibility at this stage.”
The Warriors, who are in Group G which also includes DR Congo and Congo host the Lone Stars of Liberia at the National Sports Stadium hoping to kick-start their campaign on a positive note.
Mapeza and his charges will have to negotiate a tricky passage to be at the 2019 Afcon finals in Cameroon where the hosts are guaranteed a place with only one team from each of the 12 groups earning a ticket to the continent’s biggest football showcase.
The FC Platinum gaffer said he is impressed with how things are shaping up, adding that defender Onismor Bhasera and Khama Billiat are likely to join camp today.
Bhasera had travelled with his club SuperSport United to the DR Congo for last Sunday’s African Confederation Cup match against TP Mazembe.
Billiat is currently suffering from an ankle injury that has forced him to miss Mamelodi Sundown’s previous two African Champions League matches.
The Brazilians were threatening not to release the player due to the injury but Zifa has stuck to their guns insisting the player should report for camp.
“Bhasera is expected tonight (last night) and should be available for training tomorrow (today),” Mapeza said.
“As for Khama, we are still expecting him and I heard he should be arriving tomorrow (today).
“We want our doctors to assess him to establish the extent of the injury.
“I think I am happy with how the boys are pushing, so far so good, the spirit and hunger is there.”
On Tuesday, Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela had said: “We are going to write to Safa because this is a recognised international match and the club is entitled to release the player in line with the international football regulations governing the release of players.”
Meanwhile, Mapeza added that his charges are not worried too much about their opponents, who will be heading to Harare with at least 14 foreign-based players.
“We are not looking much into our opponents. The same way we are talking about (Antony) Laffor is the same way they are also talking about Knowledge and (Evans) Rusike,” he said.
“So we just need to keep on preparing with the right attitude and mentality.”