Foreign based stars open up

Fatima Bulla
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IT IS time for merry making, far away from the stadia and the demands that come with playing in foreign lands as the country’s international footballers enjoy the festive holiday.

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For some like Kaizer Chiefs’ strongman Willard Katsande, it has been business as usual as Amakhosi are dominating in the Super Diski, while the same cannot be said for 2012 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League’s best player Denver Mukamba, who continues to sing the blues in South Africa.

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Kingston Nkatha’s battle with Chiefs’ boo boys is taking its toll on him and he is glad to be back home where he feels loved while Denmark-based wide player Silas Songani is happy to be with his family.

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Our Sports Reporters had a time out with some of the foreign-based players who spoke about their contrasting fortunes, festive holiday plans and life in general.

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Kingston Nkatha, Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa

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“It is always good to be back home where you are liked and loved, where a lot of people respect you as a player.

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“It has been a bit tough with the boo boys at Chiefs but coach Stuart Baxter has been very supportive.

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“He always emphasises my importance in the squad and to me that is what matters. I have come to realise that football is not about an individual, it is not about me scoring every week, it is about the final result of the match. The good thing is we are doing well at Chiefs, we are on top of the log and unbeaten since the beginning of the season.”

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Mike Temwanjira, Bangkok United, Thailand

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“I chose to play in Thailand because I wanted to experience a new environment, feel the Asian culture before I hang up my boots. Bangkok United is an upcoming team playing in the Thailand Toyota Premier League which has just ended. We were eighth in the 20-team league and I think we did well.

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“The weather is also good, no snow but I have never tried Thai food, and I am always eating out at European restaurants.

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“I must say I miss sadza a lot . . . I will make sure I eat a lot of it at my family home in Glen Norah before I return for the 2015 season.

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“Since coming back home a fortnight ago, I have been spending most of my time at home with my father and brothers. I think I have tried enough to make it the best holiday ever for them.

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“As a former Caps United player, I feel I need to speak about the team. For Makepekepe to achieve something, they must appoint a former player as head coach.

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“I know some of the best coaches they have locally did not play for Caps United and played for Dynamos but I still contend that someone who grew up within the Makepekepe culture will do the job for our beloved team.”

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Khama Billiat, Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa

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“So far so good, I have fully recovered from injury and I am enjoying more game time now. I can still do more for Sundowns, score a lot of goals for the club and I can only get better under a very good coach like Pitso Mosimane.

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“Having Cuthbert Malajila in the same team and the coming in of Kuda (Mahachi) has made it nicer. We will keep on piling the pressure on Kaizer Chiefs by winning our own games.

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“It is good to be back in Mufombi (Mufakose) for the holidays, meeting some guys whom I last met at school, it has been fun I tell you. I will miss this when I go back to SA for the second half of the season

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Partson Jaure, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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“We struggled a bit in the early stages but now we have picked ourselves up especially in the past two months.

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“I am earning a place in the starting line-up; we are now 12th on the log and getting better by each passing week.

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“I am glad the new coach Sammy Troughton, who replaced Steve Barker a couple of weeks before the break, is giving more game time to my former teammate at Dynamos and friend Denver Mukamba, who also joined the club from Bidvest Wits at the beginning of the season.

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“Denver does everything on the training pitch, almost everyone in the team respects him as a gifted player and I just pray he returns to the top once more.”

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Willard Katsande, Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa

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“I have been talking with friends about the contentious issue of which one is better the local league and the Super Diski.

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“Our league here is competitive and exciting, no doubt. The fact that the league champions Dynamos have won it on the last day for the past three seasons is testimony.

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“But if you compare it to the Super Diski, you will find out that in South Africa the level is a bit higher, the game is now faster and more tactical, thanks to the continuous advancement of the coaches down there.”

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Abbas Amidu, Black Leopards, South Africa

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“It has been a difficult season for Leopards because we have been losing. My contract expires on December 31 and there are options but I will have to make a smart decision.

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“I am not sure who else is going to come looking for my services, so we will see what happens, such is the life of a footballer.

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“But I must say it has really been a good Christmas holiday for me, being back here in Glen Norah where I am having the opportunity to interact with long-time friends.

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“The tournament I hosted in Glen Norah on Christmas Eve was a perfect chance for all the foreign-based players to meet and have time together. You know it is really difficult for us to interact when we are away.

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“My intention is to make this an annual event where the community will have a rare chance of having a close up with their stars.”

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Eric Chipeta, Chippa United, South Africa

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“As you know, I missed my team’s first eight matches because of the work permit issue but I have since taken off.

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“It took a while to gel especially for someone who was coming from a small community team like Hwange, walking straight into a more professional set up.

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“An ankle injury sustained against (Mamelodi) Sundowns also sidelined me for about three weeks. I cannot say I am satisfied, I want to keep achieving more.

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“It is good to be back home for the holiday after six months away. Friends have been coming to my home in Mbare to share one or two pleasantries and I think it is time to thank God for the talent that has taken me to South Africa.”

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Silas Songani, Sonderjyske, Denmark

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“It is very difficult staying far away from home . . . zvinhu zvakaoma kugara uri wega wega, so I am happy to be back, meeting my friends in Dzivaresekwa and also taking time to be with my parents in Glenara.

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“Denmark is good, I am exposed to better tactics and techniques. What is also important for me is that I am having game time, even though I sometimes come on as a second half substitute.”

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Thomas Sweswe, Black Leopards, South Africa

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“First Division football is not about how you play, it is about winning matches and getting the three points.

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“Leopards are benefiting from my experience. I have seen a lot having played for bigger teams like Kaizer Chiefs and Bidvest Wits. I still have a lot to offer, I can play for more years.”