Judge me on my performance – Katsande

HARARE - The National Sports Stadium (NSS) does not have good memories for Zimbabwe international midfielder star Willard Katsande.

Almost two years ago, the midfielder enforcer left the NSS pitch with tears on his face after he was red carded by Gabonese referee Erick Otogo in a crucial 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Burundi.

Zimbabwe desperately needed to win the match after having gone 2-1 down in the first leg in Bujumbura. 

It was June 17, and in the 28th minute of the match when Katsande went into a tackle against Burundi midfielder Faty Papy.

The Kaizer Chief man is known for his over the top crunching tackles and it did not go down well with Papy, who got up and confronted the Warriors midfielder.

Katsande is not one to shy away from a scuffle and in the heat of the moment the Zimbabwean head butted the Burundi midfielder.

With Katsande sent off, it appeared that Zimbabwe’s chances of winning the match had evaporated but Knowledge Musona emerged the match winner when he scored the only goal of the encounter in the 39th minute.

Katsande is in line to return to the NSS this afternoon in the Warriors squad that will do battle against Tanzania in a make-or-break 2015 Afcon preliminary round qualifier.

Redemption is on the Kaizer Chiefs midfielder’s thoughts as he makes a return to the Warriors fold after a very challenging few weeks.

“In football you have to put the past behind you and try to move on,” Katsande says. “I I try to think match about that red card it will affect my game.

“If given the chance by the coach, I think on Sunday I will be able to put that behind me and produce the good for the team.”

Katsande’s availability for today’s game had been hanging in the air after he failed to join camp for the first leg in Dar es Salaam two weeks ago.

The 28-year-old midfield enforcer asked to be excused because he was not feeling well but this did not go down well with coach Ian Gorowa and a number of Zimbabweans.

Most people did not buy Katsande’s excuse as they believed he had snubbed the national team to attend the South Africa Absa Premiership end-of-season awards ceremony that fell on the same day with Warriors match against Taifa Stars.

However, Gorowa allowed the midfielder hardman to come back into the squad for today’s match after showdown talks on Monday.

“I think I have ironed out my differences with the coach and it’s all behind me now,” he said.

“I was not feeling well and people judged me on that but now I’m back with the team and feels good again.

“I need to play my normal game on Sunday and people should judge me on my performances on the pitch.

“I’m not an undisciplined and a stubborn player. It’s just that I was not feeling well but I’m now feeling better and I could feel it during the week when we were training.”

Katsande is optimistic that the Warriors will be able to prevail over the Taifa Stars this afternoon and reach the second round of the qualifiers.

“The fans must come in their huge number and they must not boo the players,”

“The most important thing is for us to get an early goal and from there on we will be able to get those two goals we need to qualify.”

To reach the next round of the qualifiers, the Warriors need to win today’s match by at least two goals after going down 1-0 in the first leg.

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