Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp paid tribute to midfielder Willard Katsande following their Nedbank Cup semi-final victory over Chippa United.
Chiefs made it to their first cup final since December 2015 when they showed great character to fight from 2-1 down to overcome the Chilli Boys with a 4-2 scoreline at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday night.
Though there were several standout figures from Amakhosi’s performance, Khama Billiat was the chosen recipient of the Man of the Match award ahead of the industrious Andriamirado Andrianarimanana.
However, Middendorp was notably impressed with the resurgence of 33-year-old Katsande, who has been in and out of the side since the German’s arrival in December.
“Sometimes I wonder about the man of the match [selections], as I said after Black Leopards. In this game I saw many candidates, but definitely Khama deserved it, there’s no doubt about it,” said Middendorp.
“But I went immediately to the centre of the field where Willard was talking to the referees, and I said to him, ‘I don’t know the official man of the match is but, for me, you are the man of the match.’
“I’m very critical and I think we definitely grew in our process of understanding each other and how we wanted [him] to play out of this position.
“Sometimes he was in [the team]; sometimes completely out; sometimes he came in [off the bench], but I think his reaction at this level is fantastic.
“He is absolutely an example of how you want to have it as a coach. Here and there it doesn’t work, but come back, train, working hard, discuss how to do better.
“I was always criticising his backward play and passing to the side, but if you see him now, that’s what he has taken into account in order to improve his forward thinking, passing and even his movement.
“That was lacking in the beginning and we struggled to get it right, but he’s definitely on a good way as we saw.”