Katsande's Afcon pain

HARARE - Zimbabwe international midfielder Willard Katsande says the Warriors’ failure to qualify for the African Nations Cup hurts more now that the games have begun.

The Warriors looked well on course to secure their Afcon berth when they defeated Angola 3-1 in the first leg of the final qualifying round back in September.

Zimbabwe, however, capitulated inside the opening seven minutes of the return leg in Luanda as they conceded two goals from the Palancas Negras star forward Manucho.

The match finished 2-0 in favour of the Angolans, who qualified for South Africaon the away goals rules courtesy of Djalma’s strike at Rufaro Stadium in the first leg.

Katsande missed both matches against the Palancas Negras as he was serving a suspension for his red card against Burundi in the previous qualifying round.

His his return to international duty would have coincided with the Afcon finals had Zimbabwe qualified.

Katsande, who is popularly known as Bute, is one of 17 Kaizer Chiefs players that are not taking part in the Afcon finals with their various national teams.

The Amakhosi players yesterday began a 10-day training camp in Potchefstroom.

“It really hurts, my brother,” Katsande told the Daily News yesterday. “I watched all the teams in Group A play and there was really nothing that suggested that they are better than Zimbabwe.

“If we had qualified that is the group we were likely to be placed in, and I’m sure we were going to match all the teams there. But that is what football is like and we have to wait for our next chance to qualify.”

After missing out on Afcon qualification, Zimbabwe will now shift focus to 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

Presently that prospect of qualifying for Brazil is looking bleak as the Warriors currently sit in third place in Group G.

After two matches, the Warriors have a single point and trail group leaders Egypt by five points.

The Warriors face the Pharaohs on March 22 and Katsande believes the team has a chance of coming good in Group G.

“In my opinion, I think we still have a chance because we have between now and the next game to prepare,” he said.

“The new coach (Klaus Dieter Pagels) wants to build a new team using mainly players from the Under-23 team and we must support him.

“Once that team is in place we must make sure it is maintained and not make many changes each and every game. If I’m selected I’m ready to come and play for my country.”

Away from the Warriors, Katsande is hoping for an improved second half of the season with Amakhosi when the South African Premiership resumes on February 12.

Chiefs will make the short trip to Tshwane to face struggling giants Mamelodi Sundowns at Loftus Stadium.

The Glamour Boys started their mid-season training at Naturena on January 7 working on their fitness before they started working with the entire technical team last week.

Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter then embarked on training camp with squad in the North West Province of South Africa for some team bonding ahead of the resumption of the Super Diski.

“We want to maintain our number one position on the log when the season resumes,” said Katsande.

“As you know that in South Africa they introduced the Q-innovations so we are now going for the third quarter. This is a serious quarter and we need to do very well if we want to win the championship.”

The 2012-13 season saw the introduction of the Q-innovation system in the Super Diski.

The season schedule is divided into four fixture-blocks referred to as quarters. The first and third blocks have eight fixtures while the second and fourth blocks have seven fixtures.

Prize money is given to the teams which finish top of the table after each block of fixtures.

At this stage Chiefs lead the log on 32 points after 15 matches while their eternal Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates is a point behind.

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