Billiat’s Afcon target

BY HENRY MHARA

WARRIORS star Khama Billiat says he wants to make full use of the opportunity presented by playing at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations Cup (Afcon) finals to get a club abroad.

The team’s poster boy, Billiat, is expected to play a crucial role for Zimbabwe in their bid to make an impression at this year’s historic 24-team competition to be held from June 21 to July 19 in Egypt.

With the bulk of the Warriors players plying their trade in South Africa, Billiat — who currently plays for Kaizer Chiefs, believes that the continental showpiece presents an opportunity to impress thousands of European scouts that are expected to attend the tournament in search of new talent.

The 28-year-old played at the last Afcon in Gabon 2017, and although he dazzled in some matches, and made it onto the list of the players compiled by United
Kingdom newspaper DailyMail, who had impressed at the tournament, it was not enough to secure him a club overseas.

This time around, he wants to take the opportunity to count by making a real impact for himself and for the Warriors team that has been given a target to reach the quarter-final stage by Zifa.

“It’s not only for Afcon, you never know who is watching and what happens after, so every game and every time you’re given a chance, you need to be on top of your game — because you’re always as good as your last game,” Billiat said

Billiat has had a lukewarm season with Kaizer Chiefs since joining from Mamelodi Sundowns at the start of the season.

He wants to finish the current campaign on a high note as he seeks to draw confidence ahead of the Afcon.

“Definitely, (being in form) will give you confidence before the Afcon and you’ll be on top of your game if you actually finish the season strong. Going to
such a big tournament with a lot of confidence will help you, and it’s always a player’s aim to be on top of his game.”

Kaizer Chiefs are out of the league reckoning this year, and their only chance of some silverware is the Nedbank Cup where they are through to the finals courtesy of a Billiat’s dazzling display in the 4-2 thrilling win over Chippa United in the semi-finals on Saturday night.

Billiat was voted man of the match after providing two assists to set up the opener scored by Dumisani Zuma and Bernard Parker for Chiefs’ third before putting the cherry on the top with a long range effort — certainly a contender for goal of the season.

His crisp strike confirmed Kaizer Chiefs place in the final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on May 18 where they will play Division One side TS Galaxy.

Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambga and the team’s supporters will be hoping that their team’s talisman does not lose his form in the two remaining months before the Afcon kicks off in Cairo.

Zimbabwe are in Group A at the finals, and will meet Egypt, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Chidzambga’s men will play the hosts in the tournament’s opener on June 21.

The Warriors are yet to go beyond the group stages of Afcon in their three previous appearances at the tournament, but Zimbabwe football fans believe that the current squad, dubbed the Golden Generation, has the capacity to make history.

Besides Billiat, other players in the squad who have made the fans believe include Knowledge Musona, Marvellous Nakamba and Tendayi Darikwa, who were all involved in the qualification campaign, where they finished top of their group ahead of the DRC.

Nyasha Mushekwi and Costa Nhamoinesu did not take part in the qualifiers, but are expected to be called up for the finals, while England-born Macauley Bonne has already submitted his application papers for a Zimbabwean passport so that he can be eligible to play for the Warriors.