Zimbabwe/South Africa: We Rule Mzansi

In a South African Premiership season illuminated by Khama Billiat, Warriors captain Willard Katsande underlined Zimbabwean footballers’ dominance of Super Diski by sweeping all the major awards at the Kaizer Chiefs’ end-of-season gala in Johannesburg.

The gala, held on Thursday night, saw Katsande being crowned the Chiefs’ Player of the Season for the second year in three years after the Warriors skipper shone for the Amakhosi in a rather poor season for the Glamour Boys of South African football.

Another Warriors’ star, striker Evans Rusike, was also honoured as the best player at South African Premiership side Maritzburg United after he starred in helping his side avoid relegation, including scoring twice in a 3-1 win over Jomo Cosmos, where the losing team would have been axed from Super Diski.

Rusike scored for the Warriors in the 4-0 thrashing of Swaziland on Easter Monday in a 2017 Nations Cup qualifier and has been drafted into the squad for the home showdown against Malawi where a victory could see the national team securing their place at the AFCON finals in Gabon next year.

Katsande was the biggest winner at the Chiefs’ end-of-season gala as he pocketed R100 000 for being crowned the club’s Player of the Season, R50 000 for winning the Fans’ Player of the Season award, R25 000 for winning the Carling Players’ Player of the Season award and another R20 000 for winning the Amakhosi Online Player of the Season award.

It’s the second time, in three years, that the midfielder has emerged as the best player at the Amakhosi where the defensive midfield role that he plays appears to have been reserved for Zimbabweans since Tinashe Nengomasha burst onto the scene at the turn of the millennium.

“It’s all about the legacy I’m leaving behind, no special words can describe the feeling. It was amazing especially to be voted for by the fans because they are the bosses of the game,” Katsande told The Saturday Herald.

“I attribute all this success to my desire to fulfil my late father’s wishes. It was his wish to see me as a successful footballer. I am sure he would have been very proud of me if he was alive.

“He wanted me to be a footballer from Day One. He used to take me to Sakubva Stadium when I was a little boy during the days when Tanganda were in the league. Unfortunately he passed on when I was only 10 years old.”

Katsande won the Kaizer Chiefs Player of the Month awards for February, March, April and May, collecting R10 000 for each success.

“The gifted midfielder came good when it mattered the most and weighed in with some crucial goals to help the team when the going got tough,” the Amakhosi said on their official website as they hailed the Zimbabwean enforcer.

Katsande scored seven league goals for the Amakhosi.

“Thanks guys for voting for me for player of the Month of Feb, Mar, April and May,” he said on Twitter.

“To all my teammates I really wanna say thank you guys without you this was going to be impossible #onelove.

“Special thanks to @KaizerChiefs for giving me (an) opportunity, also the technical team for believing in my hard work.”

His Warriors’ teammate Matthew Rusike also took to Twitter to congratulate Katsande.

“There is only one Salt & Vinegar. Well done to my captain @WillardKatsande for @KaizerChiefs player of the season. Now for AFCON.”

Club executive chairman, Kaizer Motaung, said although they had a disappointing season, it was important to honour those who had excelled.

“Tonight we looked back on some of the highlights of the season and showed appreciation to all involved in continuing to contribute to the rich history of this institution,” said Motaung.

“The season has been somewhat disappointing, but we learned some key lessons which will help us as we move forward as Kaizer Chiefs.”

Rusike was named Maritzburg United’s Player of the Season at the club’s awards evening on Wednesday.

The Zimbabwe international forward scored nine goals in the ABSA Premiership this season, including the two goals that secured his club’s Premiership status, in the do-or-die game against Jomo Cosmos.

The club’s chairman Farook Kadodia said Rusike was attracting huge interest in the South African Premiership.

“I must confirm that we had approaches from big clubs from South Africa and people who thought we will be relegated,” Kadodia told Kick-Off.

“It took a while for him to settle. It took us at least four months. But we have made a decision and we will not sell our players and break up the team.

“If there is a situation of any other player we will look at it and it will all depend on circumstances. On Rusike’s case we had to be patient with him to settle down for four months and the current coach got the best out of him.

“We have definitely acknowledged that and we would like the coach to get more out of him before we put him onto the international market.

“He is happy to stay.”

Billiat is expected to sweep the South African Premiership awards at the end-of-season gala on Monday night.

Source: The Herald.