August 4, 2021

Has Katsande played himself into contention for extended Kaizer Chiefs stay?

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The Zimbabwean midfielder has been back in the team on a regular basis of late and put in a solid performance in the 1-0 win in Morocco last Saturday

Willard Katsande seems to be heading close to his best form just when Kaizer Chiefs need it most as they try to navigate past Wydad Casablanca and into the Caf Champions League final.

Katsande had been in and out of the team earlier in the season and had seemingly not fully earned the trust of previous head coach Gavin Hunt.

Hunt was happy to give opportunities to more youthful midfielders such as Njabulo Blom, Nkosingiphile Ngcobo and Darrel Matsheke, while both Katsande and Kearyn Baccus struggled for game-time. Another veteran, Bernard Parker, has also been used in the heart of the engine room this season.

And so it’s difficult to really say who the team’s first choice is in the midfield holding position.

Katsande played in only 16 of his side’s 30 league matches this term and generally, did not impress that much.

However, his presence in the Champions League has been far more noteworthy – the former Ajax Cape Town hardman has played 10 games in the continent’s most prestigious club competition this season.

And he’s been the man entrusted to steer the ship in the centre of the park as Amakhosi have headed into the crucial final few games of the Champions League.

Lack of creativity a concern?

Katsande remains first and foremostly a destroyer and has never been a playmaker. This was again the case on the weekend against Wydad when he put in a solid if unspectacular display in central midfield.

Sometimes though, with other flair players around, a team needs a player such as Katsande to be the glue which holds it all together.

And interestingly, Katsande continues to enjoy the support of the Amakhosi fans. That’s judging by their voting for next season’s Carling Black Label Cup, which has been going on for the past few weeks.

As it stands on Tuesday, the 34-year-old has been selected by the supporters as one of two central midfielders, along with Ncgobo, and ahead of the likes of Blom, Baccus, Parker and Matsheke.

Whether however, the fans’ sentiment will be enough to keep him at the club beyond this season will remain to be seen.

Katsande has spent 10 years with the Glamour Boys, amassing 306 appearances, 17 goals, nine assists and 72 yellow cards.