Friday, 8 July 2011

A little Knowledge goes a long way

The next seven days could be the most important of Knowledge Musona's short career. The Kaizer Chiefs striker turned 21 only three weeks ago but will fly to Germany this weekend to discuss personal terms with TSG Hoffenheim after the South African side accepted an offer of around 1.4 million.

If both sides are satisfied, the player from Norton - a small town 40 kilometres from Harare - will become the latest in a rather short list of Zimbabwean players (Benjani, Plymouth's Onismor Bhasera and, of course, the iconic Peter Ndlovu spring to mind) to have earned a contract in a top European league. With Glasgow Celtic and several other clubs also sniffing around, it is surely only a matter of time until 'The Smiling Assassin' is packing his bags for good.

I first saw Musona playing for Chiefs in his debut season back in October 2009. A product of the Aces Soccer Academy that also supplied exciting striker Khama Billiat to Ajax Cape Town, he came on in the 69th minute against Soweto rivals Moroka Swallows, despite having scored his first-ever goal on his full debut four days earlier.

Chasing the game, the scrawny-looking teenager tried in vain to grab a point for his new club but his raw talent was immediately apparent. Musona scored three more times that season and was voted the league's 'Rookie of the Season', although it wasn't until the start of the new campaign that he really came of age.

An intense fitness programme saw the boy develop into a fully-grown man - certainly way above the 1.69m (5ft 5') suggested on a certain website having seen him up close a few times in my local gym in Jo'burg. And the goals started flowing.

A brilliant performance in the big derby match last November against future league champions Orlando Pirates when he scored twice and forced an embarrasing own goal catapulted Musona to superstar status in South Africa. He was voted the PSL's player of the month twice in succession and feted as the key to Chiefs' championship prospects. (I even dropped my dictaphone at his feet when interviewing him on one occasion while I was asking him how he would spend all his prize-money!)

As is to prove the point, his absence for some of the title run-in did prove fatal for Chiefs as they lost out on the championship to their bitter rivals on the final day. But a return of 15 goals in 25 starts was clearly enough to alert the scouts, with Musona hammering home the point with a double for his country against Mali last month.

Ambitious Hoffenheim have certainly been tracking him ever since that Pirates massacre and given their reputation for developing African players such as Demba Ba and Isaac Vorsah, Germany could be the perfect stage. But with his pace, finishing ability and growing physique, the Bundesliga may just be a stop-gap.  

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