FORMER Warriors skipper, Willard Katsande believes that the input and grit Kaizer Chiefs will put into the remainder of this campaign will be instrumental in determining the club’s success.
The South Africa Premiership giants have been on a rocky road since their late capitulation in the title race last season and have not hit their stride this campaign.
That lean spell appears to have persisted into this year if how they have taken off for this term’s marathon is anything to go by. Having wobbled to an anti-climactic finish at the conclusion of the previous season, Amakhosi were keen to make up for that chastening disappointment, yet their league script continues to be unkind and unflattering.
In nine starts to the new season, they have mustered a measly one victory, four draws and as many losses to amass a paltry seven points out of a possible 27. They had dropped a massive 20 points before going into Wednesday afternoon’s visit to mid-tablers, AmaZulu.
The lackadaisical run leaves them precariously perched third from bottom of the 16-team table.
To compound their misery, they also suffered a humiliating elimination from the MTN8 Cup when they were overpowered 5-0 over two legs in the semi-finals by Soweto arch-rivals, Orlando Pirates.
Their problems are glaringly pronounced at both ends of the pitch — a blunt strike-force and leaky rear-guard has not helped matters. And it, therefore,leaves very little to the imagination why Chiefs are struggling because a sharp attack wins games and a sturdy defence wins titles.
However, a ray of hope is flickering at the end of the dark tunnel with a promising Caf Champions League campaign.
The Glamour Boys pulled through to the group phase of the competition for the first time ever in the club’s storied history after treacherously navigating their way past the preliminary and first round stages.
And Sakubva-bred Katsande has spoken about those contrasting, yet fluctuating fortunes, insisting on the need to take the campaign by the scruff of its neck and build some momentum.
“These are only some of the bad days in office which teams go through in football, but it will all come to pass. This is actually the first time I am experiencing something like this in my 10-year association with this great club. We feel for our fans who continue backing us through thick and thin and we will make it up for them. We can still turn this around given the quality at the club. The most important thing is to keep our heads above water and continue moving. With the new coach, we are still acclimatising to his system of play and getting up to speed now.
“We are chasing glory on two fronts, domestically and on the continent. Locally, we want to challenge again just like we did last season and come right this time around by clinching the championship. Playing with the same purpose and zeal like we have done over the past years can work the trick for us. We will keep working hard in training and there should be no excuses.
“In the African safari, we want to compete as far as we can go in the tournament and conquer along the way. The Caf Champions League is an important tournament for us. It is actually redemption mission for us and doing well there could mark the turning point for us. We have to hit the ground running and produce the result,” the former Highway star told Post Sport from his Johannesburg, South Africa base this week.
The gritty grafter, an old hand in the craft, once conceded to this publication that last season was difficult for them.
His Zimbabwean compatriot, Khama Billiat has also endured a start-stop outing since crossing the floor from champions, Mamelodi Sundowns.
But has the setback of squandering a golden opportunity to clinch the league crown psychologically pegged the gold and black-shirted boys back?
Katsande thinks not. The Mutare-born footballer is in fact convinced that coach, Gavin Hunt and his charges can pull their weight and rise to the occasion.
And although he has been used sparingly in the recent past and sometimes being dropped from match-day squads,the ex-Gunners man continues to rally behind his fellow troops.
The midfield enforcer also pledged to use his experience as a seasoned player in the Amakhosi dressing room to spur the boys to soldier on.