Ray Bande Senior Sports Reporter
WARRIOR’S returnee Thabani ‘Scara’ Kamusoko might not have been one of the bookmakers’ favourites to don the gold and green strip in the important Afcon qualifier against the Lone Star of Liberia on Sunday but the former Njube Sundowns and Dynamos midfielder proved to be a vital cog in coach Norman Mapeza’s exclusively attacking game plan.
The shrewd Warriors caretaker coach conjured an exciting attacking flair to earn the home team a well deserved and convincing 3-0 triumph over a disjointed Liberia at the National Sports Stadium before a relatively paltry crowd by national team standards.
On a day the new skipper Knowledge Musona underlined his importance to the senior men’s football national team with an unforgettable hat-trick, the 2014 Castle Lager Soccer Star of the Year finalist, Kamusoko, rose to the occasion as he provided depth and agility in the home team’s sporadic raids. That he was being played in an unfamiliar attacking role, as opposed to the usual defensive link position, worsen the skepticism among many who even doubted the wisdom behind his inclusion in that squad.
The 29-year-old dreadlocked midfielder last turned out for the Warriors in 2009 and on Sunday, the former FC Platinum player put on a spirited show alongside goalkeeper George Chigova, defenders Erick Chipeta and Patson Jaure, who were all recalled into the national team set-up. The dreadlocked midfielder alongside Chipeta, Chigova and Jaure repaid Warriors’ interim coach Norman Mapeza’s faith in them with good performances.
The inclusion of Kamusoko in the starting line-up after a long spell away from the Warriors had drawn criticism from some sectors, but the Young Africans midfielder played the game of his life. Coming from a successful season in Tanzania where he helped Young Africans win a second title in a row, Kamusoko won many hearts at the National Sports Stadium by combining well with Danny Phiri and Marvelous Nakamba to control the midfield. With a bit of Lady Luck on his side, Kamusoko’s free-kick from outside the box which rattled the upright four minutes before halftime could have sealed a good day in the office for him.
The gritty midfielder told Post Sport that he knew he would easily fit in the attacking midfield position after having played in a similar position at Njube Sundown, Dynamos and at one point in Young Africans colours. “I am happy with the way I played on Sunday. I knew it would not be difficult for me to fit in that position (attacking midfield). I have played in a similar position before. During my days at Dynamos and Njube Sundowns, I played in a similar position.
“Yes, I ended the season in a defence link position at Young Africans but earlier on in the season I was playing as an attacking midfielder. It is not new to me to play in that position but at the end of the day the decision on where I play rests with the coaches,” said Kamusoko in a telephone interview this week.
Just like his own biological mother who never wanted him to play football as a young boy back in days, doubting Thomases who never gave him a chance to make an impact in Warriors’ colours upon his surprise return, they were all proved wrong as he turned on the heat to produce a stellar performance that won the hearts and minds of many neutrals.
“My own mother did not want me to play football. She always insisted that I should just concentrate with my books but with time she started appreciating my talent in football and started supporting me. Each time I score she requests for videos and even on Sunday she watched the match on television from Bulawayo. She was so happy to see me performing well,” said Kamusoko.
The Warriors’ next Afcon qualifier is set for March 2018 in Congo Brazzaville.
Group G results
Saturday: DRC 3-1 Congo Brazzaville
Sunday: Zimbabwe 3-0 Liberia
March 23, 2018: Congo v Zimbabwe, Liberia v DRC
September 5, 2018: DRC v Zimbabwe, Congo v Liberia
September 9, 2018: Zimbabwe v DRC, Liberia v Congo
October 12, 2018: Congo v DRC, Liberia v Zimbabwe
November 9, 2018: Zimbabwe v Congo, DRC v Liberia
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