WARRIORS midfielder Willard Katsande says he is ready to make his first team comeback for his South African Premiership leaders Kaizer Chiefs when the league resumes next month after recovering from an abdominal injury.
The 28-year-old pulled an abdomen muscle in Chiefs’ 1-0 league win over Chippa United on December 13 last year and subsequently missed his team’s last two matches before the festive break.
It was the first time the hard-tacking midfielder missed matches for the Glamour Boys this season, who are still unbeaten in the league and currently enjoying a healthy 15 point lead at the top of the log table.
Katsande, nicknamed Willard Chips, Bute or Machete, is currently in the country, in his hometown Mutare where he had come for his tournament, the Willard Katsande Under-18 Soccer Tournament’ which coincided with the festive holidays.
He is expected to travel back to South Africa tomorrow where he would re-join with his teammates when they resume preparations this week for the remainder of the season.
The Premiership resumes on February 11 after the Africa Cup of Nations finals.
Speaking to NewsDay Sport yesterday, Katsande declared himself fully fit and would be available when Chiefs continues with its league onslaught.
“I’m feeling great at the moment . . . pain free. I have fully recovered and should be available when the season resumes. I will be training with the rest of the squad and working on my match fitness so I should be ready when the games resumes,” said Katsande.
“It was painful for me to miss the last two matches because I was getting used to play in every game, but that is part of the game. After all, this injury has been a positive thing as it gave me the opportunity to take a breather. It has created that hunger of playing again and im really looking forward to the next game,” added the man nicknamed Bute.
Chiefs are sitting pretty at the top of the log, 15 points clear of Mamelodi Sundowns with 14 games remaining.
They were in almost a similar situation last season when they led the standings for the better part of campaign but a run of poor results at the end saw them being elbowed off the crown by the Brazilians.
However, Katsande, who will be playing in the Caf Champions League this year, has vowed that it won’t happen again this time around.
“No, not this time around. The race is still open, but we won’t let it slip away again. We learnt our lesson last season and we now know what we need to do. We should keep our concentration, and focus on the next game. If we do that, we should be able to pull through,” said Katsande.
Together with Kingston Nkhatha, they are the only two of the four Zimbabweans at Chiefs who are enjoying regular game time.
The other two Ovidy Karuru and Mathew Rusike have been used sparingly, with reports suggesting that the later would leave the club in the current transfer window.
“I’m not very sure if anyone of them is leaving but I don’t think so. They are very good players but just that it’s difficult for them to get into the team because it’s winning. I don’t think the coach would want to change a winning team. But we have many games coming up this year including in the Caf Champions League so they will definitely get their chance.”
Turning on to his tournament which was held at Sakubva on December 27-28 and won by Redwin Football Club of Penhalonga, Katsande said he was hugely impressed.
“I can safely say it was a very successful tournament with lots of improvements from last year. I think the organising committee did a fantastic job because it was well organised and I was also impressed with the talent that was on show. We witnessed very competitive matches. We have lots of talent in this country which if nurtured, would do very well.”
Karuru and Nkhatha attended the tournament and the former said he feels greatly inspired by his teammate’s work.
“I think what he (Katsande) is doing here is very good and it will go a long way in developing the junior structures in our country, which is an area that is often taken for granted,” Karuru told the media after the tournament.
“He has really challenged us and inspired us to follow the same path and give back something to the community while at the same time developing the sport in the country.
“I am definitely going to look into the prospect of holding the same type of project in my home town (Masvingo) because we need to invest in our nation’s soccer side and give back to the community that stood by us to the point we have reached so far,” added the Warriors winger.