Warriors on fire

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Warriors on fire Willard Katsande
Willard Katsande

Willard Katsande

Petros Kausiyo and Eddie Chikamhi—
IT was a weekend to savour for the Warriors stars in the ABSA Premiership as they illuminated the Supa Diski with Khama Billiat leading the way with a brace and three other Zimbabwean internationals Evans Rusike, Dominic Chungwa and Ovidy Karuru found the target. There was a maiden goal in the South African top-flight for the 2017 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Golden Boot award winner Chungwa who is now at Polokwane City whose strike ensured a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw against Orlando Pirates at Orlando stadium on Saturday.

Veteran midfielder Willard Katsande was voted man of the match as Kaizer Chiefs came from behind to finally break their jinx of failing to beat Baroka with a 2-1 win at Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane yesterday. Although the selectors settled for Katsande for his grit in midfield, fellow Zimbabwean talent Chawapiwa, who has been a revelation in his maiden season at Baroka, was virtually unplayable and gave Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana defender Eric Mathoho a torrid afternoon on a hot and humid day in Polokwane.

But there was no doubting that it was Billiat who headlined the fine weekend for the Zimbabwean internationals which also left Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa a happy man. Billiat marking his return to the Brazilians from injury and despite the controversy that has followed his desire to leave Sundowns, he reminded the Pretoria outfit’s fans of the sublime moments they could miss should he leave, with the Warriors’ star grabbing two magical goals inside five minutes.

Former Zimbabwe captain Katsande put the icing on the cake yesterday with a solid midfield show in Kaizer Chiefs’ win over former log leaders Baroka. But it was Saturday which was particularly a good day for the Zimbabwean players with only Gerald Takwara’s red card off a somewhat harsh decision by the referee in the Cape Town derby being the only blemish for the Warriors stars’ fine weekend.

Fourteen of the Zimbabweans who are playing in the South African Premiership were in action and they contributed five of the 11 goals witnessed over the weekend action, which began on Friday night when Ronald Pfumbidzai’s Bloemfontein Celtic went down 1-0 to Bidvest Wits in Johannesburg. Five games were played on the day that the Zimbabweans found their range and Billiat provided the highlights when he helped former champions Sundowns secure their place at the summit with a 3-0 thrashing of Platinum Stars at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

The 27-year old Zimbabwe international put behind him all the uncertainties surrounding his future when he stepped up to bury two goals in identical fashion from the set-pieces, five minutes apart late in the first half. Billiat scored the second and third after Sibusiso Vilakazi had put the Brazilians ahead in the 22nd minute.

He took the responsibility when Sundowns won the free-kick just outside the box and flighted the ball just over the wall and far to the goalkeeper’s right hand side.

Billiat was back to haunt Platinum Stars goalkeeper Dino Visser again when scoring direct from a free-kick in a very similar position. This time, however, the Zimbabwean’s strike was touched onto the underside of the crossbar by Visser’s fingertips, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the ball from rolling over the line. Billiat had missed the previous seven league matches while nursing a knee injury and his goals underlined his status in the Absa Premiership.

He played 63 minutes on Saturday before he was replaced with Sundowns newboy Aubrey Ngoma. But talk of his departure continues to dominate with a move to Azerbaijan side Qarabag appearing more imminent with each week. Billiat’s contract with Sundowns is set to expire at the end of the season but he has not given a hint about his future although it is clear the former Aces Youth Academy graduate has set his eyes somewhere else.

On-fire Rusike whose quality has no doubt outgrown modest Maritzburg, also had a good day in the office when he grabbed his sixth goal of the season as the Team of Choice thumped hosts Free State Stars 3-0. Although Maritzburg want to hold onto their star striker at least until June, it remains to be seen whether they can continue to resists the offers being tabled by SuperSport United and Kaizer Chiefs.

SuperSport are looking to have Rusike come on as a direct replacement for New Zealand forward Jeremy Brockie who has moved to Sundowns. Rusike scored the second goal for The Team of Choice after Andrea Fileccia had broken the deadlock. He is now three goals shy of league leading scorer Rodney Ramagalela of Polokwane City.

Former CAPS United man Chungwa celebrated his birthday in style when he scored his maiden goal for Polokwane City. Chungwa, who turned 32 on Saturday, needed 18 minutes on the pitch to put his side ahead, with the bustling striker benefiting from a poor clearance and launching a first time volley that beat the goalkeeper.

The Zimbabwean could, not finish the match as he was taken off through injury after 61 minute but thankfully for him, his manager Igeny Shonhe said the injury was not serious. “It was a great goal for him and the feeling was great. I’m sure it’s just the beginning but there is no need to put pressure on himself. “It’s unfortunate he could not finish the game. But I am sure on Tuesday he should be back in training because it’s nothing serious. He pulled a muscle but nothing serious,” said Shonhe.

Two other Zimbabweans George Chigova and Walter Musona also featured in the match. Karuru also scored his first goal this season when AmaZulu beat SuperSport 2-0 at King Zwelithini Stadium on Saturday in a game which Onismor Bhasera and Kingston Nkatha featured for the losers.

Former Gunners man Karuru first provided the assist for veteran Siyabonga Nomvethe early in the game before he took advantage of a blunder by the goalkeeper at the stroke of half time to help his side break a seven-match winless run. But the lowest point for the Zimbabweans was when Takwara who is still new at Ajax Cape Town, was sent for an early shower for a second booking in a Cape Town derby.

Takwara’s team went on to lose the match 1-0 to Cape Town City while his countryman and teammate Tendai Ndoro played 90 minutes but was hugely anonymous. Chawapihwa was handy in Baroka’s opener after his shot on the turn appeared to have beaten veteran goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune but was denied by the woodwork and Lucky Nguzana reacted the fastest for an easy tap in. Chiefs however, rallied back with goals from Ryan Moon and Leonardo Castro with Katsande solid in the midfield.

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