Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
KAIZER Chiefs midfield hardman Willard Katsande has had a change of heart and rescinded his decision to quit international football. He revealed he will avail himself for another dance with the senior national team. Katsande called time on his international career in the wake of the Warriors’ early exit from the 2017 African Cup of Nations finals in Gabon last month.
The midfielder acknowledged that emotions had been high in the wake of the Warriors’ disastrous run in Gabon with the skipper announcing his retirement hours before his coach Pasuwa also threw in the towel.
Pasuwa was eventually fired by ZIFA last Tuesday, with the association deciding against renewing the two-year contract they had with the coach.
Katsande said he had been touched by the advice he got from such personalities like Kaizer Chiefs boss Kaizer Motaung, his Amakhosi coach Steve Khompela, former Bafana Bafana great Doctor Khumalo and ex-Warriors and Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Esrom Nyandoro.
Footballers Union of Zimbabwe president, Desmond Maringwa, Pasuwa, family and fans are understood to have been speaking to Katsande to have a re-think on his position. “My chairman (Motaung) said son you need to go back and play for your country and it was the same message I got from my coach Steve Khompela, Esrom and Doctor Khumalo.
“Coach Pasuwa told me that I still had a lot to offer to the national team. Some fans have also come to me and said they would not forgive me if I turned my back on the team and it has been the same story with my family.
“So, I have resolved that I will try my best to help my country to qualify for the 2019 tournament and those qualifiers will be my last piece of action before I retire,’’ Katsande said.
Katsande also expressed his reservations with ZIFA’s decision to fire Pasuwa in the wake of the Warriors Nations Cup early exit.
“I think that’s a big mistake to let coach Pasuwa leave the Warriors. As we all saw he has built a monster of a team with this Warriors squad, he had instilled a winning culture in the Warriors.
“He made everyone fall in love with the Warriors again and I think for the sake of continuity we should have kept him in charge. He knows how to play in the qualifiers, he knows how to win those games and how to motivate the team,’’ Katsande said.
He also reckoned that Pasuwa had brought a sense of patriotism among his charges and believes the senior team could use their experience from Gabon to mount a strong challenge for the 2019 Nations Cup qualifying campaign and seal their place in Cameroon.
“He makes every individual feel important in the squad. I think we took 20 steps backwards by removing him from the seat because I think the Gabon tournament was a hurtful lesson that we all learned, we learnt the hard way and now we must make sure the Warriors qualify for the next edition then we talk about going beyond the group stages,
“We learnt that in the AFCON tournament we need to stay focused in critical phases of the game, because we noted that we were conceding early goals. I think we are now going to use this experience from Gabon to our favour going forward’’.
Katsande also defended his troops and argued that despite finishing winless in their group games in Gabon, the Warriors were not a bad team.
“We have one hell of a good team with quality players and we need to keep them together for our development in football and that’s why I wanted continuity. Bringing in a new coach may be good, but we will be starting afresh and we have the big task of qualifying,’’ said Katsande.