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WILLARD Katsande expected a big night at the South African Premier Soccer League awards in Sandton last night but went home empty-handed as Sibusiso Vilakazi scooped the two big awards at a glittering ceremony. The Zimbabwe international was in the running for the two big awards — the Players’ Player of the Year and the Footballer of the Season — but played second fiddle to Vilakazi of Biest Wits who won both awards and a cool R450 000.

Katsande courted controversy here in Zimbabwe when some critics felt that he allegedly snubbed national duty for the Nations Cup assignment in Tanzania so that he could be in Sandton last night in anticipation of his finest hour in football.

The gritty Kaizer Chiefs midfielder claims that he was sick last week although reports emerged in the Sunday newspapers that he even trained with Amakhosi during the week.

In sharp contrast, the two best players in the Tanzanian team — Tomas Ulimwengu and Mbwana Samatta — who play for Congolese giants TP Mazembe, flew from their team’s Champions League assignment in Sudan and arrived home on the eve of their tie against the Warriors.

Ulimwengu, in particular, was outstanding yesterday as he gave Milton Ncube a tough time down the left side of the Warriors’ defence.

Katsande was tipped to be a favourite for both awards, after a stellar performance for Chiefs, but the players voted for Vilakazi who also won the vote of the coaches for the Footballer of the Season.

It’s very likely that Katsande’s misfortunes will be cheered by some hard-line fans here who feel that the Chiefs’ hard-man snubbed his country, when it needed him most, hoping to be there to pocket the rich pickings that went with winning the two awards.

Source : The Herald

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