FOLLOWING an outstanding season in which he scooped four awards at Kaizer Chiefs’ end of season awards, Warriors captain Willard Katsande has declared he is ready to lead the Zimbabwe national team to victory in next weekend’s penultimate 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at home to Malawi.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
Katsande cleaned up awards at Amkhosi’s annual prize-giving ceremony on Thursday night, winning the Player of the Season accolade, as well as the Players’ Player of the Season, Fans’ Player of the Year and Online Player of the season awards.
In an interview with Standardsport, the Warriors skipper, who turned 30 early this year, is cognisant of the fact that it could be his last opportunity to qualify for continental competition.
“I am super ready for Malawi. I can’t wait to perform for my country and we need nothing short of maximum points in this game and we can do it. This is probably my last chance to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations and that’s why I will put extra effort to make sure I achieve that before I retire,” he said.
Zimbabwe currently leads Group L in the Afcon competition, which is to be hosted by Gabon with eight points, three ahead of nearest rivals Swaziland and Guinea while Malawi are out of the race with just a single point.
The Warriors have failed to qualify for the competition since 2006 and a victory over the Flames of Malawi next Sunday will see Zimbabwe booking a ticket for Gabon, if Swaziland and Guinea play out a stalemate.
On leading a team with a history of falling on the last hurdle in as far as qualification for top competitions is concerned, Katsande refuses to listen to naysayers.
“We just need to believe in our ability and stop listening to all the negativity. I personally believe we will not fail this time, but will pull through because we have so much quality in our team. Our fans must be patient, supporting on the day and the team will deliver,” Katsande said.
Kaizer Chiefs are coming from a difficult season in which they finished fifth in the Absa Premiership as well as losing in two Cup finals, the MTN 8 and the Telkom Knockout tournament.
However, Katsande was easily their star performer as he emerged the second highest scorer for his club, thereby scooping the majority of the awards.
He also revelled in his personal achievements this season at club level.
“I can say it was my best season considering the number of awards [I received]. I think I took my game to another level in my opinion, but there is room for improvement,” he said.
“To be honest, I never thought I would make it in a big team in Africa and now winning top awards at the big team, it’s a big achievement for me. I want to thank my family, especially my mother, for sticking with me, she gives me support every time.”