FOR Sakubva-bred seasoned midfielder Willard Katsande, tomorrow’s (Saturday) CAF Champions League final against reigning champions and Egyptian titans, Al Ahly carries double-barrelled significance — it can bring both glory and history to him.
First, it presents the star with a chance to make history with his South African side, Kaizer Chiefs and be crowned the campaign’s best club on the continent.
On top of that, the tough-tackling enforcer — should he take part in the game, as is highly likely — will become the foreign player with the most appearances in official matches for the Soweto giants.
He is presently tied on a record of 325 with fellow Zimbabwean, Tinashe “Father” Nengomasha.
And Katsande is hoping to celebrate his recent one-year contract extension at Amakhosi in style and reward them for showing faith in him by ensuring victory for his paymasters.
The showdown marks a momentous occasion for the Glamour Boys as it is the first time they have made it to the decider of the prestigious tournament.
As an experienced player in the team, the 35-year-old is relishing the prospect of making history by bringing glory to Amakhosi.
“Being crowned champions of Africa’s premier club competition will be a major milestone, not only for me, but the entire Kaizer Chiefs family.
“We have come a long way in this tournament and are looking forward to completing the marathon with the trophy and gold medals in our hands. It took us a lot of hard work and determination to get here and with the same physical and psychological fortitude we can do it. Everyone is geared to achieve this goal,” said Katsande in an interview early this week from his Naturena base.
That they are getting into this contest with the underdogs tag dangling around their necks will probably work in their favour, the ex-Warriors skipper said, adding that they are ready to spring another surprise like they have done during the course of the campaign.
Chiefs were barely recognisable as a formidable force in their domestic league, but diligently pulled their weight on the continent to defy the odds, by not only qualifying for the group stages for the first time in their history, but progressing all the way to the final.
He, however, highlighted that they will play like champions on the night against a proper opponent.
While Katsande has adorned his decorated decade-long glittering career at the club by winning both team and individual accolades, the gritty midfielder is keen to add that piece of silverware that has remained elusive for Chiefs.
Declared the gritty footballer to Post Sport: “Everyone knows what is at stake and its significance. So we want to make history by creating a glorious moment and get to be able to look back with pride and cherish it for the rest of our lives that we finally managed to bring the big one home. We believe we can do this. It is 11 versus and 11; it is possible we can win it.”
As one of the club captains, the combative grafter is looking to use his experience to inspire his teammates.
A lot will be expected from him and fellow long-serving skipper, Bernard Parker, who has weighed in with some important goals.
The former Highway and La-Sakubva player will step into this contest with a familiar feeling, having faced their foes before.
Katsande was in the Gunners team —then champions of the Zimbabwean local league — when they inflicted a 1-0 defeat on Al Ahly in a 2010 contest in Harare in the same competition.
While making a record 326th appearance for Kaizer Chiefs will become an individual milestone for the Mutare-born star, he would savour being crowned an African champion the sweetest.
“It is always nice to score personal achievements, but the squad always comes first.
“We have got to this final as a team and I would be delighted for the club to come right and claim the crown.
“Amakhosi is in this together and we will be all delighted for each other if we make it,” said Katsande.