Gorowa pardons Katsande

HARARE - Willard Katsande is back in the Zimbabwe national football team fold after the star midfielder ironed out differences with coach Ian Gorowa yesterday.

The Kaizer Chiefs hardman had been in the eye of a storm after missing the first leg of the 2015 African Nations Cup qualifier against Tanzania earlier this month due to illness.

BACK IN CONTENTION: Willard Katsande, left, trained with the Zimbabwe national team yesterday at Gateway High School. Picture: Nelson Chekera.

Katsande’s story, however, found little sympathy, with the majority of local football fans doubting if the Mutare-born star was indeed ill.

To many, Katsande had decided not to travel to Dar es Salaam in order to attend the South African end-of-season awards on the same day as the match, where he was in line for two top awards.

He lost both, the PSL Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season to Sibusiso Vilakazi of Bidvest Wits.  

A depleted Warriors side lost 1-0 in the first leg, and now need to overturn the deficit in the second leg in Harare on Sunday to avoid an early heartbreak of crashing out of the qualifiers in the preliminary stages.

Yesterday, Warriors gaffer Gorowa extended an olive branch to the former Highway and Gunners man, who was part of the squad that began preparations for Sunday’s tie at Gateway High School.

Warriors team manager Sharrif Mussa said: “Willard’s case as you are fully aware from the last call up has been hanging in the air. He has been saying his version and everyone else also talking about their own version. However, we thought that it was better for him to come and talk to us in person.

“He met with the coach and discussed his issues and the coach basically had a good gesture of kindness in understanding his position and gave him another chance to come back in to prove his worth.”

And speaking to the Daily News after yesterday’s training session, Katsande maintained he was indeed sick and could not travel for the first leg.

“It’s not like I didn’t want to come to play for the national team; this is the number one team in Zimbabwe and everyone wants to play for the national team,” said Katsande.

“I was not feeling well and I spoke to the coach and we were able to understand each other. The coach and the manager agreed that I should come back and play for the national team.”

Turning onto Sunday’s make-or-break match, the Amakhosi midfield enforcer insisted the Warriors have a good chance of overturning Tanzania’s lead.

“It’s going to be tough game because we are one goal down from the start, so obviously the first thing is to make sure we do not allow Tanzania to get another goal,” said Katsande.

“We need to get an early goal to settle our nerves and this will increase our chances of getting the second goal we need.”

Katsande has been outstanding for the Phefeni Glamour Boys in the Super Diski and believes he can transform that form onto the international stage.

“If I’m given the chance by the coaches, I think I can perform to the best of my abilities and help the country qualify for the next round,” he said.

Meanwhile wingers Denver Mukamba and Oviddy Karuru, who were called up to reinforce the squad for the second leg, were in training yesterday.

The Warriors technical team is hoping that Libya-based forward Edward Sadomba will arrive in the country later today from his club Al Ahly Bengazi.

Highlanders winger Kuda Mahachi was also expected to join the squad late last night after traveling with his new club Mamelodi Sundowns to Namibia over the weekend.

Bosso midfielder Peter Moyo sat out yesterday's training session with an ankle injury he picked up on Sunday during his club's win over Buffaloes in Mutare.

Sqaud: George Chigove, Munyaradzi Diya, Washington Arubi, Partson Jaure, Wonder Kapinda, Eric Chipeta, Ronald Pfumbidzayi, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Milton Ncube, Stephen Alimenda, Marshall Mudewe, Danny Phiri, Pasca Manhanga, Talent Chawapihwa, Willard Katsande, Denver Mukamba, Kuda Mahachi, Ovidy Karuru, Cuthbert Malajila, Kuda Musharu, Edward Sadomba.

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