Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
BELGIUM-BASED Warriors talisman Knowledge Musona was yesterday counting his lucky stars after cheating the terror bomb attacks that rocked the Brussels international airport in which he could have been trapped as he prepared to come for African Cup of Nations duty for Zimbabwe.
Thirty-four people were by last night reported dead in twin attacks on Brussels airport and a rush-hour metro train in the Belgian capital, triggering security alerts across Western Europe and bringing some cross-border transport to a halt.
The twin blasts at the airport and a metro station left Brussels in a state of lockdown.
The airport will remain closed today which meant that there was a possibility Musona might have missed the match on Good Friday.
The blasts are being seen as a response to the arrest four days ago of a suspected participant in the November militant attacks in Paris.
Belgian police say there’s no guarantee there won’t be more attacks in the coming days.
Musona plies his trade with Belgian top-flight side K.V Oostende and would have been ordinarily travelling from Brussels to join the Warriors camp ahead of their back-to-back African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Swaziland over the Easter weekend.
Fortunately for the Warriors chief striker, he was not in Brussels on the fateful day when the blasts took place having flown into Harare via Johannesburg on Monday night where he later teamed up with MatThew Rusike, skipper Willard Katsande, goalkeeper Washington Arubi and Dutch-based midfielder Marvelous Nakamba.
Musona said yesterday he was shocked to hear the news of the Brussels airport attacks and said he counted himself lucky for having elected to fly from Frankfurt in Germany on Sunday night.
The 25-year-old striker, who has never hidden his determination to help the Warriors in their bid to end a decade of waiting to qualify for the Nations Cup finals, gave an account of how he escaped the possibility of either having been caught in the tragedy or left being holed up in Brussels where the airport has since been closed.
“I was not aware that the airport had been attacked until I got a call from my manager inquiring whether I was safe. Luckily for me, and I have to thank God for that, I did not fly from Belgium. I took the flight from Frankfurt to Johannesburg.
“We had gone on a week-long training camp in Spain after we lost our last league match (4-1) to Gent and on our way back we slept over in Germany and that is when I decided that I would stay in Frankfurt and then just catch the flight from there to South Africa on Sunday,’’ Musona said.
The arrivals of Musona, Katsande, Arubi, Mathew Rusike and Nakamba followed those of the quartet of Partson Jaure, Eric Chipeta, Evans Rusike and Kuda Mahachi earlier on Sunday and Monday.
Czech-based defender Costa Nhamoinesu, Onismor Bhasera and Nyasha Mushekwi came in yesterday afternoon further boosting the Warriors preparations for the first of their clashes against Sihlangu at Somhlolo stadium on Friday afternoon.
By last night the Mamelodi Sundowns pair of Khama Billiat and Cuthbert Malajila were the only missing link as their club side had been holed up in the Democratic Republic of Congo where they had gone for an African Champions League assignment against AFC Leopards.
Despite playing at the weekend, Sundowns were only able to leave the DRC yesterday and that meant Billiat and Malajila missed the first two days of training.
The Warriors management, already in a quandary over the travel arrangementS which could now see them travel in three batches with the first two groups expected to leave today, were last night considering the possibility of having Billiat and Malajila joining the team from Johannesburg.
It has not been the best of arrangements especially against the background of the importance of getting a double over Sihlangu and cementing the Warriors position at the top of Group L.
ZIFA are understood to also have been toying with the idea of having the first batch of 11 players travelling to Mbabane via Johannesburg this morning with the other group following later in the afternoon and sleeping over in South Africa.
The third and final group would then follow tomorrow morning which would complicate the training programme ahead of Friday’s match.
Another possibility for the Warriors to fly as one group on Thursday and then connect by road from Johannesburg to Mbabane would also mean the senior team could miss out on a chance to have a feel of the artificial turf at Somhlolo which is understood to be a slower surface than the hard and fast pitch at Rufaro.
Zimbabwe and Swaziland are currently joint top with four points each while Guinea and Malawi have one apiece in a delicately poised pool.
Musona, on whose shoulders the task of leading the line of attack will fall, also expressed concern over the Warriors’ limited time for preparations.
“It appears we are getting used to training for just two or three days before a game but that is not healthy.
“Every game that we will play in these qualifiers will be tough. It is not about the history of the teams, we have to fight hard for the points and it is not easy playing back-to-back matches against the same team in a space of few days because you don’t have much time to study and review how your opponents play.
“So in this case we just have to be at our best and it is teamwork that matters but it is not going to be easy because we haven’t played together for a long time and we also have just a couple of days to train and that adds some pressure on us but it is do or die for us because we badly need the points,’’ Musona said.
He also revealed that he had now become accustomed to the demands that come with the wave of expectations from the fans for him to deliver.
“Supporters always expect their players to do the best whether at cub level or for the country and I know that just everyone who will be chosen by the coach, I have to deliver and I will give it my best in these two games,’’ Musona said.