Ray Bande Senior Reporter
FORMER Warriors captain Willard Katsande’s romance with ABSA Premiership giants Kaizer Chiefs, which is in its 8th year, could be hanging in the balance amid revelations that the gritty holding midfielder is yet to renew his contract.
Chiefs registered one of their worst campaigns in the club’s history, but more notably their worst in the PSL era, as they ended 9th on the log standings when the curtain came down on the 2018/19 season last weekend.
Amakhosi rounded out the league season with a defeat – their 12th of the season – away to Chippa United on Saturday, to end the season with a miserly 39 points.
As Kaiser Chiefs braces to celebrate 50 years of existence next season, Katsande knows that he might not make up the grade to be part of that milestone achievement for the club.
Katsande was being substituted consecutively recently, something that had been unusual for a key player of his stature since joining the club eight years ago.
That the coach has also made it abundantly clear that he will massively overhaul his team next season serves to ring alarm bells to the 33-year-old midfield workhorse.
In fact, Katsande’s future at Naturena genuinely hangs by a thread after German coach Ernst Middendorp insisted that there are no sacred cows in his team, and everyone‚ including Katsande‚ will be benched on occasion as he employs specialised tactics for particular opposition.
Subsequently, Katsande has fallen victim to Middendorp’s team rotation policy.
It has been a case of another day‚ another player shown the ever-revolving door at Kaizer Chiefs as the ABSA Premiership’s Glamour Boys continues to get rid of excess garbage and Katsande must be feeling the heat.
Winger Bhongolethu Jayiya‚ who joined Amakhosi on a free transfer in July 2017 from Cape Town City‚ has since followed midfielder Pule Ekstein and Venezuelan striker Gustavo Paez on the list of recent casualties.
The club’s poor run has worsened issues for Katsande.
Katsande was quoted in South African media saying it was painful for him and his Kaizer Chiefs teammates to hear fans making fun of the team for being stuck on the seventh position on the Absa Premiership log for much of the season.
At a crucial stage of the season‚ Chiefs recently reeled from a five-match winless streak in the league and found themselves in an unfamiliar seventh spot for a long time.
Chiefs were stuck in seventh spot since December when coach Middendorp replaced Italian mentor Giovanni Solinas and they have had difficulties moving up the table.
Katsande said he was hurting after seeing fans poking fun at the club.
Some fans have even labeled Amakhosi “7 de Laan” but Katsande insisted the Soweto giants will have the last laugh.
“You know you hear people making fun of us and it is very painful because Kaizer Chiefs is a big team to be stuck in the same place on the league table for so long‚” Katsande was quoted as saying.
“But who knows who will have the last laugh? We never know what tomorrow holds for us so for now we lick our own wounds.”
“You never know what tomorrow holds when the sunshine comes maybe my flower can blossom, so I think we are going to have the last laugh, trust me‚” said Katsande.
Katsande likened Chiefs’ situation to that of a dying flower that needs to be brought back to life.
Katsande is one of the longest serving players at Chiefs along with Bernard Parker.
He has been a forever present figure in the Amakhosi line up, but things look to be different under new coach Middendorp.