Khama Billiat insists his relationship with Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp is “fine” and has dismissed speculation of a personality clash.
While Chiefs have got off to a good start to the 2019-2020 season and lead the Premiership‚ things seem to have been a little rockier for their Zimbabwean attacker‚ a star of the group stages at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt in June.
In August‚ Mamelodi Sundowns tabled a reported R15m offer for a return of Billiat to the club he left just over a year before.
Reports were that the interest from his former club was initiated by the player. Chiefs emphatically squashed the move.
It then appeared to take some time for Billiat to be introduced to Chiefs’ starting line-up‚ though he has made the XI for four of their past five matches and was a substitute in the other.
Billiat was asked to respond to speculation of a rocky relationship with Middendorp.
“I don’t know that. I was just greeting him now‚” he said. “I don’t know where this is coming from. But I’m working with him every day. I’m fine.”
In September Middendorp complained that the player was lacking match fitness when Billiat‚ initially left out of Zimbabwe’s squad for their crunch World Cup qualifier against Somalia on September 5 and 10‚ was then included after the Warriors lost the first leg 1-0.
The player scored a 90th-minute tie winner for a 3-1 second-leg victory to send his country to the next round of the Qatar 2022 qualifiers 3-2 on aggregate.
This past weekend Billiat said he and Middendorp had put behind them the public statements both made — with the player having said after Zimbabwe’s win in Harare that‚ “nothing comes close to playing for your country”.
On Friday‚ ahead of this past weekend’s Shell Helix Ultra Cup‚ where Billiat laid on all the passes for Leonardo Castro’s hat-trick and scored the fourth in Chiefs’ 4-2 win‚ the player said: “We [Billiat and Middendorp] spoke about it.
“As players we always want to play football. You always want to represent‚ whenever you are called for.”
Middendorp and Billiat do appear to be smoking the peace pipe.
The coach glowingly praised the attacker’s performance winning man-of-the-match in Chiefs’ last competitive game‚ their 2-0 league win against Lamontville Golden Arrows at FNB on October 1.