By Petros Kausiyo
Battle-hardened Zimbabwean midfielder Willard Katsande has shrugged off speculation about his future with South African Premiership side Kaizer Chiefs and insists he is fully focused on helping the struggling Soweto giants at the moment.
The 35-year-old former Warriors skipper is one of 10 players including veterans of the club who have been linked with a move away from Chiefs in a proposed massive clear-out at the ailing giants.
Katsande has established himself as a household name at Chiefs for the last decade since his arrival from Ajax Cape Town and is part of the Amakhosi captaincy together with skipper and goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and striker Bernard Parker.
Interestingly, the trio’s names have been mentioned in the proposed Chiefs clear out when coach Gavin Hunt gets an opportunity to raid the transfer market.
Chiefs, who have had a poor season winning just five out of 20 league games so far, have been unable to go on the market after being slapped with a transfer ban by FIFA.
Despite consistent talk linking him with an end to his long Chiefs career, Katsande, who is in Guinea where his side played that country’s football kings, Horoya, in a Champions League assignment last night, said he was unfazed by the reports.
Fellow Zimbabwean Khama Billiat’s stay at Chiefs has also come under constant scrutiny.
“Obviously speculation will always be speculation. Each and every day there will be speculation about something. We are professionals and we have contracts to honour. The most important thing is to focus on a day to day basis, that is, to try to give your best everyday at training and try your best to improve the team.
“Whatever happens in future we are going to deal with it when the season ends.
“But for now our minds are on this situation we are in so that we try and do well and come out of it and end the season on a high. We have had a good run in the Champions League and we just need to continue doing well but we are not even bothered about what the media saying or doing.
“The media needs us to make money, the media need our names to make the headlines that make people eager to talk, make people read news so we will allow them to do whatever they want with our names because at the end of the day they have to make money but from our point of view we are just focusing on Kaiser Chiefs,’’ Katsande said.
The former Zimbabwe skipper, who saluted the current crop of Warriors for qualifying for the next Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon next January, said returning to Conakry brought memories of his time with the senior side under his captaincy.
He also challenged Zdravko Logarusic’s men to avoid taking comfort in just qualifying but seek to reach the Nations Cup knockout stages.
“To be back in Africa with Kaizer Chiefs is an amazing moment and we just want to do good. We are using the experience from the national team.
“We were here prior to the 2017 AFCON when we played the Guinea national team so we know the culture of African football and it is our duty to put the guys together and make them perform, share the experience with them and help them not to panic.
“As for the Warriors we are all happy for them, it is always nice to qualify for the AFCON but we need them to go beyond the group stages… that is the target now’’.
Katsande lauded the Amakhosi spirit despite their troubles in the DStv Premiership where they currently lie ninth — a massive 19 points behind champions and leaders Mamelodi Sundowns who have played a game less.
It is against this background that featuring in the Champions League has offered Chiefs some joy away from their domestic league blues.
“The atmosphere in the Chiefs camp is great at the moment, we know that the Champions League is a big stage for big people with big characters and you just need to take your game to another level’’.
After serving the FIFA transfer ban, Chiefs will only be able to register new players in July.
Amakhosi were dealt a blow when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dismissed their appeal against a two-window transfer ban.
The ban was imposed after the Soweto giants were found guilty of the illegal signing of Andriamirado “Dax” Andrianarimanana in 2018.
Dax’s former Malagasy club, Fosa Juniors, lodged a complaint with FIFA stating Chiefs didn’t justifiably compensate them for the transfer of the player.
Andrianarimanana, who was also slapped with a four-month ban, has since served his penalty.
Reports from South Africa however, indicate that Chiefs have already identified some of the players they want to sign in July with Kick-off indicating that Taariq Fielies and Buhle Mkhwanazi have joined the list of players on Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt’s most-wanted list.
The South African Glamour Boys have already released Siphelele Ntshangase while the future of Lebogang Manyama just like that of Katsande, Khune and Parker remains uncertain.
According to a source close to Chiefs, the club is preparing to make an offer to Cape Town City for the services of their trusted servant Fielies.
The Cape Town-born defender’s contract with the Citizens is set to expire at the end of the 2022/23 season after he signed a five-year deal in 2018.
“Gavin Hunt is a big fan of Taariq Fielies. Chiefs are interested. The only challenge they might have is John Comitis’ asking fee,” the sources told KickOff.com.
“Buhle Mkhwanazi is still trying to sort out his issues with TTM and could join Chiefs next season even though there is overseas interest.”
Amakhosi are also set to bring in Sifiso Hlanti and Phathutshedzo Nange from Swallows FC and Stellenbosch FC respectively next season.
Mkhwanazi, Hlanti and Nange all played under Hunt at Bidvest Wits before the club was sold last season.
With Chiefs set to raid the market, local players will feel hard done by the Covid-19 pandemic which has forced them into inactivity for more than a year and with it chances of being spotted by Amakhosi’s Football manager Bobby Motaung and Hunt.
There has been no Zimbabwean who has joined Chiefs since Billiat. The Sunday Mail