Pagels sparks Mzansi debate

HARARE - With Kaizer Chiefs having recently completed a league and cup double in South Africa, the continued omission from the Zimbabwe national team of Willard Katsande and Kingstone Nkhatha, both instrumental in Amakhosi’s dominant season, has torched debate across the Limpopo, according online publication KickOff.com.

A number of South African football followers have interpreted the two’s omission as a less than flattering view of their Absa Premiership by their northern neighbours.

Although Zimbabwe has not yet named its squad for its next set of assignments, Warriors coach Klaus-Dieter Pagels is resisting calls to include the Kaizer Chiefs duo of  midfielder Katsande and striker Nkhatha in the team that will face Egypt and Guinea in next month's World Cup qualifiers.

Zimbabwe will face Egypt on June 9 in Harare before travelling to Conakry to play Guinea the next weekend.

The German coach has been under immense pressure from Zimbabwean football fans to consider Katsande and Nkatha, who have both been instrumental in helping Chiefs to win a league and cup Double.

Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter considers Katsande “the best holding midfielder playing in South Africa” while Nkatha's seven league goals makes a strong case for his inclusion in the Zimbabwe national squad.

But with Zimbabwe already out of contention for a place at next year's World Cup – they are bottom of Group G with one point – Pagels has opted for younger, less-experienced players, mostly from the Castle Premiership.

And while Chiefs will still be represented by Matthew Rusike and Lincoln Zvasiya, the omission of Katsande and Nkatha has outraged supporters, torching debate on whether or not the German coach regards the South African topflight league seriously.

A reader on KickOff.com likened the omission of Nkhatha and Katsande to Spain snubbing Andres Iniesta and David Villa, Egypt leaving out Mohammed Aboutrika and Ahmed Zidan, Italy snubbing Andrea Pirlo and Mario Ballotelli as well as Germany labelling Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Gomez surplus to requirement.

Another reader, Football Fanatic, commented:

“Williard Katsande, he is known in Orlando & Cape Flats. The Bully,Salt & Vinegar,the best defensive midfielder in PSL playing for the greatest team ever in South Africa.”

Mriyo, another reader, disputed that the pair deserved places in the Warriors squad, remarking:

:They were never instrumental at Chimps coz referees had a mandate to deliver the cups to nazoorena.Its pity they can’t call referees to national teams to assist.Katsende is the best holding MD in SA my a$$.” -  Sports Writer

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