FROM the moment Knowledge Musona burst into football’s radar in Kaizer Chiefs colours, he had the world at his feet.
Zimbabwe’s dominant creative striker delivered enough goals and assists to become not only the most gifted player in South Africa’s Premier League but the best player – better than Katlego Mphela, better than Sifiso Vilakazi, better than Anthony Laffour.
There were fewer more satisfying sights, even to a neutral, than watching Musona putting goals, many of them spectacular in front of an enthralled South African crowd. Or watching him bob and weave past innumerable Orlando Pirates defenders before drilling into the net.
It was not surprising that Europe came calling, with Glasgow Celtic of Scotland and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim of Germany emerging as the favourites to sign the revered striker.
He chose the Germans.
Many expected him to unleash a reign of terror on defenders in Germany like he did in South Africa but those expectations have been squashed. Musona has been reduced to a squad player, a back up, waiting for a suspension or injury to one of Hoffenheim’s star forwards to get a rare opportunity to make an impact.
He has been given little time to impress as he has been used as a substitute in the last 15 minutes in almost every match. He only started one match in October last year in the first round of the DFB Pokal Cup competition (German Cup) against fellow Bundesliga outfit Cologne and scored the winning goal as his team emerged 2-1 victors.
After that game, Musona went back to being a pit-part-player, a clear sign that he has not won over the coaching staff at Hoffenheim, who prefer to use the twin attack of former Liverpool striker Ryan Babel and Nigeria’s Chinedu Obasi Ogbuke.
Certainly, there have been a few bright spots here and there – assists and productive trickery on the ball in the Bundesliga.
Yet watching the smiling assassin in Hoffenheim colours over these last few months has been hard not to feel as if the sparkling form he displayed last season for Kaizer Chiefs has largely deserted him.
It’s hard to get your head around the idea that this is the same Musona who was the spearhead of last year’s insurmountable Chiefs’ attack. That Musona’s best years are ahead of him is a fact that few would dispute and that he might need to leave Hoffenheim to rediscover his club form is a suggestion that many would agree on.
But Musona is not a coward, he knows that in Germany he has a lot to prove, that he needs to establish himself as the lynchpin and their always dependable trump card when the chips are down. Those who have seen him in form obviously hold his class and technical abilities in awe but alas, he has not been afforded the opportunity to show the Germans what he is all about.
It is not difficult to imagine why his morale is in the doldrums right now. The entire German adventure has become a nightmare and he must have wished his South African stint was not ended so hastily.
For the reason of being forced to adjust to a squad player, the sharpness and velocity in attack that had set him apart from his peers appears to be waning. This, coupled with a lack of confidence in front of goal, has marred his spell in a Hoffenheim jersey, and in the eyes of casual observers may damage the reputation that he cultivated at Kaizer Chiefs.
The striker’s exploits for Kaizer Chiefs seem a lifetime ago, and it was that prolific impact that attracted Hoffenheim. In stark reality; the pace, technique and instinct of Musona that earned him immediate admiration has been lost in translation.
Despite playing second fiddle to the solidification of Babel as Hoffenheim’s supreme, being outscored by Obasi and ultimately reduced to a bench warmer, Musona’s rise from Black Aces Academy is worthy of revere.
The striker has enjoyed his fair share of trials, tribulations and triumphs in his short career – yes short career – lest you forget Musona is just 21-years-old. Despite his own despair, one that clearly frustrates him as he struggles to re-discover that yard of pace after an injury induced layoff, the team he plays for offers contentment to a player who ultimately sacrificed personal glory at Kaizer Chiefs for the satisfaction being turned into a complete player by the side that produced Demba Ba.
Musona might have traded being king of FNB Stadium to be a cog in the Hoffenheim machine but that does not mean that is all he will be.
Yes, frustration and negativity have far outweighed the rare moments of inspiration for the ex-Kaizer Chiefs idol. It is wise not to judge Musona by his unsettled first season that is close to a climax anyway, Musona will enter a vital stage of his career next season where he must re-discover his form.
Next season Musona will not need reminding that he must shape-up or ship-out. He should not require further invitation. He will start from the start and will be part of the 2-12-2013 season preparations – in that period he must seize the moment and become un-droppable to save his club career.
A debut season as Hoffenheim’s third striker is excusable but next season is the opportune time for Musona to fulfill that old football proverb that form is temporary and class is permanent.