Willard Katsande apologises
By Makomborero Mutimukulu
Midfield grafter Willard Katsande has apologised for the drama that saw him missing the Warriors’ 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier away to Tanzania last weekend.
The Kaizer Chiefs man riled Warriors coach Ian “Dibango” Gorowa and a soccer-mad nation with his last-minute withdrawal, citing a stomach bug.
His no-show came after the midfielder had repeatedly assured Gorowa that he would pitch up for the important assignment.
Gorowa and his technical team did not buy Katsande’s story and have shown just how much they are miffed by overlooking the midfielder for next weekend’s return leg.
There is a strong feeling in some circles that Katsande turned his back on the national flag in order to attend last Sunday’s Absa Premiership end of season awards ceremony where he was in the running for a couple of awards.
He walked out empty-handed, while the Warriors fell 1-0 to the Taifa Stars.
The fallout triggered by Katsande’s no-show has seen irate fans throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, at the former Highway and Gunners player.
Some daring ones are even sending derogatory SMS’s to him.
However, amid all the emotions, Katsande says: “I am sorry . . . I didn’t know things would turn out this way. There is no way I can turn my back on my country.”
Speaking to The Sunday Mail from his South Africa base on Friday night, the midfielder, who scooped the Kaizer Chiefs Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and online Player of the Year awards last Wednesday, blamed the fallout on poor communication.
“I am a patriot; I love my country and am prepared to play for the Warriors for mahala (free)… it’s not about bonuses, but the honour that comes with wearing that national team jersey.
“I just want to apologise to the nation as well as the national team coach for the communication breakdown that occurred ahead of the game against Tanzania.
“Indeed, I was sick and have all the medical reports to confirm this, but with the benefit of hindsight, I believe I could and should have communicated better with coach Gorowa,” said the 28-year-old midfielder.
Had you been fit what would you have chosen, playing for the Warriors or attending the awards ceremony?
“The national team without doubt . . . I am a patriot. When we played a friendly against Malawi early this year I was feeling a knock, but I reported for duty because I love my country.
“I was prepared to come for the Tanzania game, but my stomach problem was so bad there was no way I could drive to Zimbabwe,” said Katsande.
Why did you offer to drive when Zifa had offered you an air ticket?
“I told the Zifa guys that I always drive when I come back home for off-season because there is always some stuff that I need to carry home . . . you can ask anyone who knows me, every off-season I drive home.”
Katsande, who sent this publication a scanned copy of his doctor’s report but refused to have it published, disclosed that he will seek a clear-the-air meeting with Gorowa.
“I should be back home Sunday (today) and will be there to watch and support the Warriors against Tanzania next weekend.
“After that, I will seek a meeting with the national team coach. I could have allowed you to go ahead and publish the doctor’s notes, but I feel that will be disrespectful towards the coach . . . I will give the coach the medical reports and ask for his forgiveness.
“I remain committed to the Warriors and hope to be called again to the national team . . . I will come running because nothing compares to playing for your national team,” he said.
Katsande’s no-show for the trip to Tanzania saw the midfielder’s stock plummet in the eyes of Zimbabwean soccer fans.
When news filtered through that the Kaizer Chiefs anchorman had drawn blanks at the Absa Awards, the social media was overflowing with comments that “celebrated” his failure to land the awards.
Administrators of popular Facebook page DeMbare DotComs last Sunday posted a picture of Katsande arriving for the Absa Awards just a few hours after the Warriors had fallen to the Taifa Stars.
“Does he look like he’s suffering from a diarrhoea bout?” they asked.
The question triggered steroids of vitriol.
“Katsande has made it clear that playing for his country is a non-important issue, why don’t we move on without him?
“We have a pool of players who have declared their patriotism and love to represent Zim . . . guys like Darikwa, Bradley, who even play at better leagues than the Absa. Trust me, we won’t miss Katsande; after all what has he contributed or done to the national team to be missed? Talking about his national team snub will make him feel so special, let’s move on . . . ,” posted one Rodrick Mahwaya.
“Let’s ignore this man because he has belittled this nation in favour of personal glory, no amount of apology can appease us the fans, he is not a true Warrior at all,” added George Sibangani.
Others, although in the minority, punched in Katsande’s corner.
“To hell with all those that are attacking Katsande. No futbola (footballer) in his right mind wud (would) have missed the awards for a dead rubber match against stupid Tanzania.
“His bread is being buttered at Kaizer Chiefs and he had every right to represent them since he had been nominated for different accolades.
“Maakuda kuti auye kuZimbabwe kuzotambira ishwa idzodzo, nxcaaa,” fumed one Gandanga Nemanja WeUnited.
Katsande disclosed that some disgruntled Warriors fans have sent him hate messages on his mobile phone.
“It’s one of those things, I guess . . . they are frustrated and I understand where they are coming from. This episode, with all its nasty comments, will make me stronger,” he said.
Meanwhile, the midfielder insists he was not hurt to see Bidvest Wits’ Sibusiso Vilakazi walk away with the Absa Premiership Footballer of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season awards ahead of him.
“To be voted among the top three players in the Absa premiership is an honour in itself and I congratulate Sbu (Vilakazi) for winning the awards.
“It was also an honour to win three awards at the Kaizer Chiefs ceremony . . . I thank God for the honour,” he said.
For scooping three gongs at the Amakhosi awards night, Katsande drove away in a Nissan 370Z and pocketed R230 000.
Quite tidy for a lad whose dream job was to be a security guard at one point! Sunday Mail