Back to back Soweto Derby clashes between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates have seen Kaizer Chiefs captain and midfield enforcer Willard Katsande extending and nearing the record of former teammate Siphiwe “Shabba” Tshabalala.
The two teams gear up for the second instalment of the clash in as many week tomorrow at the FNB stadium. Kick off is at 1530hrs.
If Katsande runs onto the park tomorrow it will be his 25th consecutive Derby appearance with former club star Siphiwe Tshabalala holding the current record for most Soweto Derby appearances, having featured in 31 consecutive clashes against Orlando Pirates.
The Zimbabwean gritty midfielder with 24 appearances is the most capped foreign player in the Soweto Derby which is a remarkable record by any measure considering other foreign greats to have featured in the big clash.
Katsande has never missed a competitive meeting with Pirates since his arrival from Ajax Cape Town back in 2011.
Goalkeeper Itumelung Khune comes in at second for the most appearances having featured in 27 Derbies since making his debut for Amakhosi in 2007 but a recent spate of injuries have kept him on the sidelines meaning he remains shy of Tshabalala’s record as well.
The hard tackling Zimbabwean midfielder is the one that has capitalised the most on enshrining his name amongst legends of the fiercest rivalry in Southern African football.
Katsande reflects on his journey that has made him a popular and permanent figure of the Soweto blockbuster clash.
“I can’t say I’m eyeing Shabba’s record of 31 [derbies] because I’m just a poor boy coming from Zimbabwe and playing in these Derbies are so special to me,”
“I’m just enjoying these moments, which is to be part of these kinds of games. When I sit down after I’ve retired, I’ll tell my grandkids that I was part and parcel of these Soweto Derbies.” said Katsande.
This season Katsande has largely played a bit part role in Chiefs cause but with the games coming thick and fast and injuries taking their toll on his teammates he has answered the call from coach Ernst Middendorp.
He will very much look to cement his place at the heart of Chiefs midfield and regain Middendorp’s favour once again with a classic performance as the club eyes silverware that has eluded them for the past 5 seasons.
Chiefs currently lead the Absa Premiership log standings with a 7-point cushion over title rivals Mamelodi Sundowns whilst the arch enemy Orlando Pirates lies 12 points behind.
A third of the 2019/20 PSL season games have gone so far meaning a defeat for the Bucs will leave them with an uphill task to lay claim to the league title as they will be 15 points off the perch.
By Gerald Dandah