Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Willard Katsande says they will try to remain humble and level-headed as they prepare for the Caf Champions League final against Al Ahly.
The Zimbabwe international made his 325th appearance for Amakhosi this past weekend when they made history by claiming a 1-0 aggregate win over Wydad Casablanca to book their place in the final.
Katsande also equalled his compatriot Tinashe Nengomasha’s record for the most number of games played by a foreign national for the Soweto giants.
The veteran midfielder feels they proved all their doubters wrong to reach the final following the difficult journey to this point in the competition.
“The funny and interesting thing about this Caf campaign is that we carried the underdog tag from day one until now, people never gave us a chance,” Katsande told his club’s official website.
“We started our Caf campaign in the middle of a rough patch, when we were not doing well in the league. We won narrowly away and managed to keep a clean sheet at home to get a result and sneak through.
“In my time at the club, we’ve played in the Champions League on a number of occasions. Even with all the experience and the number of international players we had, we had always gone out in the preliminary round or the first round. We really wanted to get into the group stages this time around. And we used the experience of our previous Caf disappointments to keep on learning and plugging away.’
However, Katsande felt like their campaign was coming to an end after their humiliating 4-0 defeat by Wydad but then redeemed themselves during the two-legged semi-final against the same opponents.
“We felt the pain of our supporters, coming home after losing 4-0. And even playing in the domestic league we were not doing well. We really gave the wrong impression to our supporters. But we kept going until the results came and we managed to progress to the quarter-finals,” said Katsande.
“We knew we needed to be better playing away at Wydad in the semi-finals than we were when they beat us 4-0. We were coming off back-to-back victories and securing a top-eight finish, so we had a bit of confidence. The guys kept on grinding, pushing and applying the tactics of our technical team. The master tactician [Arthur Zwane] told us they will see a different, determined Kaizer Chiefs. ‘Win, lose or draw, I want to see you perform’. We kept to our rhythm and game plan, which managed to get us to the final.”
Chiefs will take on defending champions Al Ahly in the final of the Caf Champions League at Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca on 17 July.
“This season we turned the corner in terms of the Caf competition. Every game is tough in the Champions League, it requires you to bring your A game to get what you want. Going to the final for the first time, becoming only the fourth team to do so without conceding a goal at home, is a good state for us to be in. It will put us in a good position.
“We’re still humble, level-headed, we know we haven’t won anything yet, but we really want it. We are just going to work hard and get back on the horse to get the victory in the final,” concluded Katsande.
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