Kat­sande back in War­riors fold

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here - Ed­die Chikamhi and Mukudzei Ching­were

GRITTY mid­fielder Wil­lard Kat­sande has bounced back into the War­riors, nearly two years af­ter he had called time on his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer with the Kaizer Chiefs hardman yes­ter­day rev­el­ling at his in­clu­sion in the squad to face Liberia in Mon­rovia next month.

The War­riors will travel for the penul­ti­mate Group G qual­i­fier at the Sa­muel Kanyon Doe sta­dium on Novem­ber 18, know­ing that a point will seal their qual­i­fi­ca­tion with a game to spare.

Kat­sande who was cap­tain when the War­riors qual­i­fied for the 2017 edi­tion in Gabon un­der Cal­listo Pa­suwa had an­nounced his re­tire­ment from the se­nior team on their re­turn from that Na­tions Cup show­case.

The Kaizer Chiefs vice-cap­tain later had a change of heart and an­nounced that he was avail­able for se­lec­tion, which meant coach Sun­day Chidzambwa could call him if he felt his ser­vices were needed. Chidzambwa has also not been tak­ing any chances de­spite the War­riors lead­ing Group G and the vet­eran coach has looked to max­imise on all the avail­able tal­ent and ex­pe­ri­ence and Kat­sande who has been one of the pil­lars at Chiefs suits that bill. Kat­sande noted yes­ter­day that the re­call comes at a time he was itch­ing for a re­turn in hon­our of his late mother who al­ways loved to see her son in the na­tional team colours. The for­mer Ajax Cape Town man told The Her­ald from his Johannesburg base in South Africa that he was de­lighted to be back into na­tional team fold. “It is al­ways good to rep­re­sent your coun­try. I feel hon­oured to be back with the na­tional team. “I need to help the team achieve its goals and make sure the team qual­i­fies for the African Cup of Na­tions fi­nals. “We need to go to AF­CON and go be­yond the group stages be­cause we have the pedi­gree to do that. “I want to hon­our my mother by play­ing for the na­tional team again, be­cause be­fore she died she al­ways said 'it is weird to watch the team play with­out you'. “For her it was painful for me not to be part of the team, but for me even in my ab­sence I al­ways sup­ported the team and I al­ways wished them well,” said Kat­sande.

De­spite the War­riros fail­ing to win a game in Gabon, Kat­sande was one of the se­nior side’s stand­out play­ers and won the ad­mi­ra­tion of Tu­nisian de­fender Syan Ben Youssef.

He how­ever, im­me­di­ately an­nounced his re­tire­ment from in­ter­na­tional foot­ball af­ter the group matches in Gabon, claim­ing the time had come for other play­ers to come in and rep­re­sent the coun­try.

But in Au­gust, the 32-year-old re­vealed his plans to come out of re­tire­ment if the coaches felt he still had value to add to the na­tional team.

With in­juries hav­ing rav­aged his side and lim­ited his op­tions espe­cially in at­tack, Chidzambwa is ex­cited by the re­turn of his strik­ers Tino­tenda Kadewere and Evans Rusike.

Chidzambwa named a 21-mem­ber squad that also in­cluded in form Dy­namos goal­keeper Simba Chi­nani, who has re­ceived his maiden na­tional team call. e War­riors who have been limp­ing with in­juries to some of their key men, have been boosted with news that Le Havre AC striker Kadewere and Rusike, who plays for Su­perS­port United in South Africa, could be avail­able for se­lec­tion. Kadewere was in­jured at his peak on his last days in Swe­den and has been out of ac­tion since July. But the lanky for­ward is now up and run­ning. Rusike is also back on his feet af­ter the doc­tors had given him at least three weeks af­ter pick­ing a knock on his an­kle dur­ing the MTN8 Cup fi­nal against Cape Town City last month. Chidzambwa will also be happy to wel­come skip­per Knowl­edge Mu­sona who missed the re­turn leg of the qual­i­fier against DRC in Harare two weeks ago be­cause of sus­pen­sion. “The good news is Knowl­edge is back, we also have Tino (Kadewere) and Evans (Rusike). I un­der­stand Kadewere has started train­ing and I am told he should be fine for the match. “Tino had ini­tially re­cov­ered from the in­jury that side­lined him for this long but then he had pulled a mus­cle again. All the same, he is up and about and we will as­sess him again when we get in camp. “Evans is also back. Their re­turn is ob­vi­ously a boost for us. If you look at it, the last time we were short of fire­power up­front. We only had Knox Mu­tizwa as an out and out striker but now we have more op­tions.

“Our wish is to go to Liberia and come back with a good re­sult that should en­able us to qual­ify for the AF­CON fi­nals. We will do our best to get a re­sult but I am sure Liberia will not be easy op­po­nents in their back­yard.

“They have proved that in all their home games dur­ing this qual­i­fiers. So we are look­ing for­ward to a dif­fi­cult game,” said Chidzambwa.

Chidzambwa has also had to make do with­out Danny Phiri, who picked an in­jury dur­ing warm up of the War­riors’ last as­sign­ment against DRC at the Na­tional Sports Sta­dium but be­lieves Kat­sande’s ex­pe­ri­ence will come in handy.

“Wil­lard is in the team and I wouldn’t want to com­ment much about that one. As you know Danny Phiri got in­jured ahead of that match against DRC and is still out with that in­jury.

“Ob­vi­ously we needed a re­place­ment for his po­si­tion. So we had to call Wil­lard. He is a good player with a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Chidzambwa.

DeMbare Num­ber One Chi­nani re­ceived his first call to the War­riors, re­plac­ing Ngezi Plat­inum goal­keeper Dono­van Bernard as cover for Ge­orge Chigova and Ed­more Sibanda.

Chi­nani has been re­warded for his top form in an oth­er­wise very av­er­age Dy­namos side.

“Chi­nani has been do­ing well for his team Dy­namos of late. I think he is cur­rently one of the best goal­keep­ers we have at the mo­ment in the lo­cal league. We also look to the fu­ture, so we have to give some of these guys the op­por­tu­nity to rub shoul­ders with the na­tional team play­ers and prove them­selves,” said Chidzambwa.

War­riors team man­ager Welling­ton Mpan­dare said the team is not likely to stage any train­ing camp in Zim­babwe as the play­ers look set to head straight to Mon­rovia from their club bases on Novem­ber 14.

The War­riors are look­ing at hav­ing at least three days to train and ac­cli­ma­tise to the con­di­tions in Liberia.

“We are still look­ing at dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios but it’s most likely that the play­ers will fly di­rect to Liberia from their bases on Novem­ber 14 and ar­rive Novem­ber 15,” said Mpan­dare.

Wales-based Alec Mudimu is also back from sus­pen­sion af­ter miss­ing the War­riors’ 1-1 draw with DR Congo but an­other mem­ber of the “Bri­tish Bri­gade’’ Ten­dayi Darikwa misses the trip to Liberia af­ter pick­ing up two yel­low cards.

Wil­lard Kat­sande

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