Johannesburg - Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter revealed on Saturday that he nearly overlooked Willard Katsande when the Briton arrived as new coach in 2012.
Baxter celebrated his first ever Premiership win over Orlando Pirates as Katsande netted a second half header to see out a famous 1-0 victory at FNB Stadium, in Johannesburg, on Saturday.
“My first week at the club, I watched Willard Katsande playing and I said to Doc (Doctor Khumalo, Baxter’s assistant) that I’m not sure he can play for us because he’s so reckless,” Baxter said after the game, talking about the hard-hitting midfielder.
Known for being a work-horse in the middle of the park, Katsande has earned plenty of criticism in his time at Chiefs as being unable to control his temperament, often receiving yellow and red cards for ill-timed and dangerous tackles.
“I told him. I said, ‘I love your physicality, but it has to be under control,’” Baxter said.
“It was very often not under control and I think that he’s done a fantastic job working on his game, to bring that under control.”
Baxter has repeatedly leapt to the defence of the Zimbabwean international, who he believes is often unduly booked, based purely on his reputation.
But on Saturday, a man-of-the-match display from Katsande put the Glamour Boys ahead shortly after the hour mark to record his first ever goal for Chiefs, ending a 67-game wait for the goal which proved the difference in front of a sold-out Soccer City.
“His contribution was immense. He broke up so much of Pirates’ play that he was almost like a one-man defence at times,” Baxter said.
“If we didn’t have him, it may have been a very different game today, and I thought he was well worth the man-of-the-match. I think he’s played some good games for us and that was probably one of his best.”
Katsande, meanwhile, said he was delighted to have opened his account for Amakhosi.
“It was long overdue and I am happy that my first goal was an important one for the team,” the 28-year-old said.