ONLY a catastrophe of monumental proportions will stop Sakubva-born star – Willard Katsande – from smashing the Zimbabwean players’ record of matches played for Kaizer Chiefs.
At 308 matches played for Kaizer Chiefs so far in a period spanning almost a decade, Katsande is set to become the Zimbabwean player with the highest number of games played for one of Africa’s greatest football clubs.
No wonder why the club recently conferred the former Warriors’ captain with the status of a legend.
After making 311 appearances for Amakhosi, Tinashe ‘General’ Nengomasha currently holds the record of a Zimbabwean player who played the highest number of matches at Kaizer Chiefs.
The gritty Katsande now needs the next three matches against Amazulu, Casablanca and Supersport to match Nengomasha’s record.
His next game after that will see him surpassing the target.
The ex-Warriors midfielder, who traces the humble beginnings of his career to local clubs such as the now defunct Highway FC, is in his 10th year as a member of the Amakhosi team and in August this year, he will be celebrating completing a decade in the coveted Kaizer Chiefs gold and black stripes.
He joined the Naturena side on August 1, 2011 from Ajax Cape Town and has helped them win two league titles and the MTN8 title.
Katsande has served under seven coaches in his Chiefs career.
In an interview with Post Sport early this week from his Naturena base, Katsande said: “This is an achievement that I will forever cherish, together with family and fans. It was not easy, but somehow I soldiered on and I am happy that I have come this far.”
Asked about his future at Kaizer Chiefs and the conferment of his legend status, Katsande said: “I have options on my contract, so it is not a hustle. We will cross the bridge when we come to the end of the contract.
“On the aspect of being included among the club legends, I am really happy about it and like I said, it is an achievement that I will cherish for a long time to come.”
Even though they have been going through a lean spell in recent months, Kaizer Chiefs, often known as Amakhosi, which means “Lords” or “Chiefs” in Zulu, or the Phefeni Glamour Boys, have won 12 league titles (four in the PSL era) and over 50 club trophies.
They hold the most trophies among the other clubs in the PSL and are the most supported club in the Southern African country, drawing an average home attendance of 14 873 fans in the 2018/2019 season, the second-highest in the league.
Famous players who donned the black and gold jersey in the past and are also part of the club legends include former national team captains Neil ‘Mukoko’ Tovey, Lucas Radebe, Patrick Ntsoelengoe, Gary Bailey, John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu, Shaun Bartlett, Steve Komphela, Siyabonga Nomvete, and Doctor Khumalo.
It is former Bafana Bafana captain, Tovey, who ignited the discussion that culminated into Katsande being bestowed the legend status when he said the former Warriors skipper, Katsande, has earned legendary status at Kaizer Chiefs after serving the club for a decade.
Tovey, who played for Chiefs from January 1991 until retirement in 1999, felt the tough tackling midfielder deserves the recognition.
“You know 10 years at Chiefs, I mean why not? It is a long time. It takes a lot of dedication, a lot of hard work. I mean you don’t last 10 years if you have not put much of an effort and dedication to the club. You don’t last.
“And it is not (under) one coach. He has obviously had lots of coaches. So for you to last 10 years, all the coaches have liked what you have done.
“So to play 10 years shows you have done something good for the club. You know there is not a lot of players who played 10 years for a club. It shows the club believes in you and you believe in the club.
“He has earned it you know, he has earned it; but it’s up to the club and the fans to decide on that,” Tovey told popular South African football magazine KickOff.com.
In January 2020, Chiefs celebrated their 50th anniversary.