Willard Katsande: Chiefs' unsung hero

2015-02-19 12:03
Willard Katsande (Supplied)
Willard Katsande (Supplied)

Cape Town - Though it may not have been too important in the early days of professional football, the role of a defensive midfielder in the modern game is paramount to any side's hopes of success.

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Most players who occupy the role are not viewed as the most technically gifted, but in order to be successful in that position, work rate is essential.

A top side like Kaizer Chiefs - a club who have risen to success and have seen dramatic changes in fortunes - every player is important, but some are considered more pivotal than others. They famously clinched the PSL two seasons ago and in all truth, every single player played a part, although some more than others.

While there are players that grab your attention, there are also the so called 'unsung hereos'. Every team boasts at least one squad member whose efforts fly under the radar, and even though their work may go unnoticed, they are absolutely crucial to the team.

So at Amakhosi, there are not expected to be too many unsung heroes, but there is one name that stands out, and that is Willard Katsande.

The Zimbabwe international is someone that is often criticised for being too rough, and many don't recognise how good he actually is. His work-rate is fantastic, he is magnificent alongside Reneilwe Letsholonyane in midfield, and with that pair as the enforcers in midfield, Chiefs look a lot more assured.

Katsande offers a great deal in protecting the back four, but also allows players equipped with creativity like Siphiwe Tshabalala, Bernard Parker and Letsholonyane to create opportunities in attack. Granted, his job is made a lot easier by the quality that the other midfield possess, but he actually allows the forwards more freedom by sweeping up in midfield and playing the ball into more attacking positions.

He has been overlooked by many a pundit and it's only now that people are noticing his true value. Often critics question Baxter's decision to persistently pick Katsande in the starting XI, but every game he consistently delivers. By delivering, he puts in a top performance and does his job in the midfield. He doesn't surge up the field like Letsholonyane and bamboozle defenders or unlock defences with his magical passes like Tshabalala, but that is not where his strengths and contributions to the side lie.

How is it other football fans still don't value him as a screening defensive midfielder?

Chiefs fans would say that Katsande is the most underrated player in the PSL. He is one of the first names on the team sheet for the Glamour Boys and is pivotal in the way they play. Most fans would say that Katsande offers nothing to the team, and is simply an average player. However, these critics do not look deep enough into the beautiful game. During a match, many fans watch the player with the ball and see a good player to be one who catches their attention through goals, assists, long passes and last ditch tackles. Often fans jump on the bandwagon for what they see.

Letsholonyane frequently bursting into the opponent's half, some would fear that Chiefs would become exposed in midfield, but it is that man Katsande to beef things up when needed. He grants Letsholonyane the freedom to attack regularly, whilst remaining in midfield.

If Kaizer Chiefs manage to secure the PSL title, then Katsande has yet again played a key part.

Read more on:    kaizer chiefs  |  psl  |  willard katsande  |  soccer

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