Nkhatha wins battle of former friends

JOHANNESBURG - On a mild Tuesday evening, two former friends turned into sworn enemies.It was a night when Willard Katsande squared up against his former trusted lieutenant Kingston Nkhatha.

In January, the burly striker (Nkhatha) stunned the football fraternity by walking out of the Kaizer Chiefs village to join rivals SuperSport United in a stunning January transfer window swop.

Before joining SuperSport, the two Chiefs “brothers”, Nkhatha and Katsande had resembled traits of identical twins — they are both stocky, mean and take no prisoners on the field of play in any case.

Those who know the two well say, they used to share a room while in camp, go to social joints together and wherever you see one, the other would not be far away.

But as in politics, they say in football there are no permanent enemies or friends.

This past Tuesday, the two former buddies were at each other’s throat — literally.

They had a running duel which, at the end of the day, was convincingly won by one Kingston Nkhatha.

Unbeaten until this past Tuesday in the league campaign, Nkhatha who scored on his debut for SuperSport two weeks ago, was again instrumental in Amakhosi’s first defeat of the 2014/15 Absa Premiership campaign.

His incisive runs were influential in SuperSport’s two goals; and during his celebrations, made his emotions very clear.

Nkhatha had left Chiefs in a very acrimonious manner after the most supported side’s fans had subjected him to months of torture through consistent booing.

The Chiefs supporters had gotten frustrated by what they thought were the wasteful nature of the Zimbabwean striker.

But on Tuesday, he had the last laugh. Despite putting Katsande to police him the entire evening, it was the midfielder-cum-defender who came out second best as, on several occasions he was shown a clean pair of heels by the hard-running striker who surely had a point to prove.

While defeat did little to dent Chiefs’ 13-point lead over defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns, it breathed new life into the title race which was slowly becoming a one horse race.

With two games in hand, Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane tried to add pressure on his Chiefs counterpart Stuart Baxter by suggesting the Pretoria side would catch up with the Soweto giants.

If Downs win their outstanding two games on Chiefs, they will move up to second place on 40 points, still a massive seven points off the top with eight games to go.

For them to overhaul the Amakhosi lead, Chiefs will have to go through an alarming slump while Downs go on an almost unbeaten run. That scenario while possible, will take some doing.

In the meantime, the talk within the soccer corridors was the fight between Katsande and Nkhatha and many, if not all have given the verdict to the later.

On who will prevail in the second round, is neither here nor there for the time being, Nkhatha as we speak is holding the Zimbabwean duel bragging rights.

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