The Sunday News
Simba Jemwa, Online Reporter
FORMER Kaizer Chiefs and Zimbabwe international Willard ‘Bhute’ Katsande has retired from football after a career spanning two decades.
Katsande made 341 appearances across all competitions in the South African top-flight.
The Eastern Highlands-born and bred midfielder called time on his career at DStv Premiership club Sekhukhune United and will reportedly be named as an official brand ambassador for Sekhukhune United.
According to media reports from South Africa, Sekhukhune announced a 33-man squad on Wednesday with Katsande a notable omission from the list while Sello Motsepe and Siyabulela Shai were confirmed returnees. The duo was released at the end of last season and Katsande has now decided to officially hang up his boots at the age of 36.
Widely regarded as a midfield work-horse, Katsande began his career playing for local lower division clubs in Zimbabwe such as Frontier Steel (2002–2005), Feruka (2006–2007) and a popular giant killing club from Mutare, called Highway (2007–2009) from where he was recruited to play for Gunners F.C. in Harare for the 2009–10 season.
At Gunners, Katsande made a huge contribution to the club’s campaign in the CAF Champions League qualifiers. He was in irresistible form as the Gunners shocked African giants Al-Ahly 1–0 at Rufaro Stadium in the Champions League second round match before eventually bowing out on 2–1 aggregate, after losing the reverse encounter 2–0 in Cairo. The Gunners would, however, finish top of the premier league, clinching the title as Champions in that season.
He made his professional debut for Ajax Cape Town on 12 December 2010 in a 2–0 win against Mpumalanga Black Aces at Atlantic Stadium in Witbank. He was acquired by Ajax Cape Town in the summer of 2010 as a transfer from Zimbabwean club Gunners F.C., having left a lasting impression on the club by his earlier performance with the Gunners in the CAF Champions League qualifiers.
On 15 August 2011 it was announced that Katsande had joined the Kaizer Chiefs, after Chiefs manager Bobby Motaung saw his performance, while attending an international friendly match between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Katsande made his debut on 10 September 2011 in the MTN 8 final against Orlando Pirates coming in for Tshabalala in the 81st minute. In his first 12 league matches for Chiefs, Katsande got 5 yellow cards. Katsande won the Premier Soccer League and the Nedbank Cup in 2013 where he was the most booked player with 10 yellow cards including one red card. Katsande scored a long-range scorcher after taking a few steps off the centre line in a 4–1 win over Bloemfontein Celtic on 21 July 2013 with his fellow countryman Knowledge Musona scoring on debut.
Katsande scored his first official goal on 15 March 2014 in the Soweto derby against Orlando Pirates, the same team he made his debut against, being a header in the 61st minute in a 1–0 win. He scored almost on the goal line and headed past Senzo Meyiwa. Katsande was the biggest winner at the Kaizer Chiefs Awards on 21 May 2014. He won Players’ Player of the Season, May Player of the Month, Fan Player of the Season and Online Player of the Season and Player of the Season awards. He pocketed R230 000 in total prize-money after taking home most of the Awards. He scored his second official goal for Chiefs in a 2–1 win loss to Black Leopards in the Nedbank Cup on 21 March 2015, exactly 371 days after scoring his first. He won the MTN8 and his second league title in 2014–15.
Katsande was called up for national duty to represent Zimbabwe as of 2010, after his successful run with the Gunners, playing for the country’s 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign going on to captain the side before his retirement from international football in 2017 at age 31.
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