Kaizer Chiefs' Katsande ready to introduce himself to Al Ahly in Champions League final
If there is a player in the Kaizer Chiefs squad one can rely on fighting talk to match fighting performances‚ it is Willard Katsande.
The combative‚ all-in Zimbabwean known for his flying kamikaze challenges in midfield will surely introduce himself to the stars of Al Ahly in characteristic uncompromising fashion in the Caf Champions League final on July 17.
Katsande also has no qualms playing up rank underdogs Chiefs’ chances should they continue with the fight and grit that got them to the final against the nine-time and defending champions.
“My view about Ahly is that they are a good team with a rich history in African football‚” Katsande said.
“What we are going to do is give them the respect they deserve‚ but when it comes to match day it’s a matter of who wants it more.
“So we are going there with our tag as underdogs. But we are just going to go there and showcase our talent.
“And they know that we are hungry to achieve. We didn’t come this far by mistake or fluke – we are here because we deserve to be here.
“Yes‚ obviously they will come with complacency and try to undervalue us‚ but at the end of the day it’s not about history‚ it’s about the 90 minutes.
“We’ve seen in the Euros how football is changing. It’s not about big teams. It’s about who wants it more for that particular day.
“So we are geared up‚ we have sharpened our swords‚ pulled our sleeves up‚ and we are ready to rumble.”
There can have been fewer more loyal servants to Chiefs than the ugly duckling who became a swan Katsande.
Initially the credentials of the ungainly‚ wildly rough defensive midfielder were questioned for a club of the stature. Stuart Baxter refined Katsande into a more intelligent product.
His complete dedication over a 90 minutes have made Katsande a key component for a decade for Amakhosi. It seems fitting he will now take the continent’s biggest stage in the black and gold. Ahly’s superstars will do well to be wary.
“As a youngster you dream of these kinds of things‚” Katsande said.
“For a boy from Mutoko in Zim being in the Champions League final with Kaizer Chiefs‚ one of the biggest teams in Africa and a team with a rich history‚ we know it’s history on its own.
“I just want to make it better by putting a star [above the badge]‚ whereby in my career I will look back and say‚ ‘I’ve managed to do a lot when it comes to club football’.
“I’ve been at the club more than a decade – it means a lot. And I just need to put a cherry on the top where I can see how far I’ve gone and contributed to this biggest badge.”
Chiefs meet Ahly at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca‚ Morocco.