HARARE – Former Warriors captain Willard Katsande reached a milestone when he made his 200th official appearance for South Africa Absa Premiership side Kaizer Chiefs last month.
Although he is still a long way from catching Doctor Khumalo, who holds the record for most Amakhosi appearances at 497, Katsande is still chuffed by the achievement.
His next target is trying to surpass fellow countryman Tinashe “Father” Nengomasha’s 317 appearances for the Phefeni Glamour Boys.
The Daily News on Sunday Sports Editor Nigel Matongorere spoke to the Chiefs midfield enforcer regarding his milestone.
Below are excerpts of the interview.
Q: How do you feel after surpassing 200 official games for Kaizer Chiefs?
A: Obviously it’s a good feeling following this individual achievement. I have worked hard to be where I’m at the moment. I never thought I would get this far considering the way Chiefs signed me.
Q: How did the transfer happen?
A: I was playing for Ajax Cape Town at that time, but the club had told me that they would be terminating my contract at the end of the season. The club had signed me when Foppe De Haan was the coach, but he was also leaving at the end of the season with Maarten Stekelenburg coming in to replace him. Stekelenburg had already told me that I was not in his plans so I was looking for a new club at that point when I travelled back home to play in an international friendly against Zambia at Rufaro Stadium. Bobby (Motaung) watched the match because he wanted to sign Lincoln Zvasiya. I had a good game that day and on my way back to Cape Town I was in the same flight with him. I was surprised when he told me that he wanted to take me and Zvasiya to Naturena when we spoke on the flight. I thought it was a joke. At that point I did not really take him seriously but I was surprised when I finally got the call that Chiefs would be signing me.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge you faced in reaching this milestone with Chiefs?
A: When the team is not doing well, there is a lot of pressure from everywhere because Chiefs is a really big club. It’s a huge challenge because even on the streets people stop you to ask what’s wrong with the team. Mentally, it can be draining at times but obviously you need to realise that the only people that can take you out of the mess us the players. You just need to keep on working hard and try to do your best on the pitch so that results start coming.
Q: You struggled during your first days at Chiefs as you picked up yellows cards on a regular basis and sometimes missing crucial matches due to suspensions. How did you improve your game to become such a mainstay in the team?
A: Obviously, you get worried when you pick up yellow cards regularly and it was really affecting my game. I improved by watching other players that play in my position to see how they stayed out of trouble with referees. The two players I really looked up to and talked to help me change my game were Tinashe (Nengomasha) and Esrom (Nyandoro) who are legends when it comes to my position. I had to be strong and put in a lot of work to perfect my game. All my previous coaches helped me a lot as well.
Q: What more do you still want to achieve with Chiefs since you have won almost every cup that is there to offer in South Africa?
A: For me, it’s a matter of just enjoying my game and playing well for the team. I have just renewed my contract with another four years. I’m 31 at the moment and my target now is to see whether I can catch Tinashe and Doctor Khumalo on that list of most appearances. I want to go down as a Chiefs legend and if I keep on working hard anything is possible. With the team, my target is to make sure that we win every competition we play in but the most important trophy that I want to win again is the big one — the league title.
Q: There is a bit of confusion regarding your international career with the Warriors. Have you retired or you are willing to come back and play for the national team?
A: When I made my decision to quit the national team, it was crystal clear that I had made my decision. However, when I returned to Chiefs after the Afcon finals in Gabon, I had a discussion with my bosses here and they asked me to re-evaluate my decision.
They thought I still had a lot to offer the national team and that’s when I made the announcement that I was coming back. However, I was not selected for the last Afcon qualifiers and I understood that the coach wants to give other players a chance. At the moment I don’t think I will come back to the Warriors to play again but maybe to help here and there in a different capacity. I love my country Zimbabwe and if I did not play for the Warriors, I would not have been here at Chiefs because of the story I told you before. I can promise the fans that one day I will be back with the Warriors maybe even as a coach in the future because I want to give back to my country.
Q: You are now 31 and must be probably thinking of life after football; what are your plans when you finally hang up your boots?
A: I want to go to Europe to do my coaching courses once I hang up my boots. I will be very much involved in football here in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Like I have said before, my dream is to one day coach the Warriors and at the moment I’m in the initial stages of setting up my company so that I can also be an agent after playing football. I want to help Zimbabwean players break through here in South Africa and other European leagues. There are also a number of businesses that I want to set up but I cannot give you the details yet since I’m still in discussions with my partners.