AFTER leading the Warriors to the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), Willard Katsande yesterday issued another contradictory statement, saying he has no regrets about his decision to retire from international football.
BY HENRY MHARA
The former Warriors captain announced his retirement in the wake of the team’s 4-2 defeat to Tunisia on Monday, which saw them exiting the Afcon finals in Gabon tournament at the initial stage.
“I have played my part, with pride. I don’t think there is anyone who can doubt my commitment whenever I played for the national team. I might have had bad games, but in terms of commitment, I was always up there. It’s hard to leave, but I have to leave so that we can see other Katsandes out there emerging,” he said promising to bounce back into the team in future in a different capacity, said.
“I’m humbled with the support I got from all the Zimbabweans during my tenure as the captain. But I have played my part. I have to step aside and pave way for young blood.
“I don’t have any regret over this decision. I think this is a good time to retire from international football. I want to thank all Zimbabweans, my teammates, the technical team and coach, (Kalisto) Pasuwa, who I credit for everything I have become. He shaped me as a person and as a leader, giving me the responsibility to lead the team.”
Katsande said, while he failed to lead the team past the group stages, qualifying for the finals would remain a big achievement for him and the squad, on its own.
In an earlier interview, Katsande had said he was yet to make a decision on his future.
Reports last night suggested that other senior players, including Cuthbert Malajila, Onismo Bhasera and Costa Nhamoinesu, were also contemplating retiring from international football.
He said it was inevitable that the senior players would soon leave, but it was imperative to keep the core of the team together.
“It’s unfortunate we couldn’t progress, but the team is good. This team needs to be kept intact. There is no need to rebuild much. If you are looking at a long-term plan, keep this group together. The understanding is there and the core needs to be retained.”
He said it had always been his dream to play at the Afcon finals, and the experiences would stick with him forever.
Despite the team’s failure at Afcon, Katsande is still proud of himself and his teammates. He, however, regrets the way his team capitulated in all the three games, conceding goals early in all the matches.
“We need to pick up the positives from there and use them for the 2019 competition. Competing with the best teams in Africa, you need to be highly-focused, especially in the critical stages of the game like the opening minutes.
There were phases we played fantastic football, but the damage had already been done. We took it as a lesson. We learnt the hard way, but we are happy we competed against the best players in Africa.
“All the three teams had quality. We need to prepare more and be serious in our preparations because those are the small details that we need to look into. You need to be clear with the plan and the set objectives for such tournaments. We do have the quality to get as far as the quarter-finals, but it’s how we prepare,” he said.
Pasuwa, whose future with the team is under scrutiny, has urged Katsande to reconsider his decision.
“He has been a pillar in the team, giving guidance and I think he needs to reconsider his decision and come back. He came to me and we spoke about it,” he said.