Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
KHAMA BILLIAT scripted a beautiful picture of the ultimate wonder goal – a combination of power, pace and precision – in a beautiful exhibition of his star quality on Saturday night on the southern shores of the Indian Ocean.
The Zimbabwe international footballer chose the stadium that carries the name of South Africa’s greatest son, Nelson Mandela, to present his vintage piece of art, which — for the umpteenth time —showed he has a touch of football genius.
And, with just one swing of his right foot, he produced a goal as close to perfection as they come, connecting sweetly from distance, beating the goalkeeper decisively and leaving the SuperSport television commentator breathless.
By his admission, this hasn’t been a fine season for him – by his lofty standards – and his freshman adventure with Kaizer Chiefs hasn’t produced the Cinderella romance, or the fireworks, many were expecting, and others had predicted, when he joined the Amakhosi.
He has struggled with injuries, loss of form, the burden of the huge expectations placed on his little shoulders, teammates who have failed to provide the supporting cast he enjoyed at Mamelodi Sundowns and a coach who initially appeared to show he didn’t trust him.
But, as they repeatedly say in this game, for the true wizards of football, form is usually temporary, while class is permanent.
Last week, Billiat conceded he has not fired to expectations at Chiefs, and the whole team also needed to take a look into the mirror, but declared he wanted a strong end to the season to help him carry some good form to the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt in June and July.
And, if this was the level of football he was desperate to reach, in his quest for a return to the heights he scaled and the style he repeatedly showed at Sundowns, and which he also displayed for the Warriors in their AFCON qualifiers, then it’s good news for millions of football fans on both sides of the Limpopo.
Saturday’s goal, which brought down the curtain in a six-goal Nedbank Cup thriller in Port Elizabeth, was worth every penny the fans paid to watch a contest that ebbed and flowed with the sound of the waves pounding the coast in the distance.
Okay, let’s try to put it into context.
George Malukeka scrambled for possession deep in the opponents’ territory, as Chiefs attacked hoping to get the insurance goal that would end this match as a contest after the plucky Chippa United had, at some point, come back from a goal down to lead 2-1 in this semi-final thriller.
Billiat had provided the assist for Bernard Parker to push the Amakhosi into the lead to, somehow, make up for the great chance he had missed, when through on goal, to give his side a two-goal lead earlier in the match.
Then, in those closing stages of the game, he found himself running in to provide support for the attack, pick-pocketed possession as the ball rolled freely a good 25 metres, or so, away from goal.
The Warriors star didn’t even need a touch to take control, his instincts ordering him to go for the kill, assuring him it was worth the try from such a distance and propelling him to shoot from range.
The product was an absolute beauty, the ball rising like a laser-guided missile, arrowing towards the right hand post of the ‘keeper, the energy generated by the sweet contact powering it past the goalie and right on target.
Somewhere down the coast from Port Elizabeth, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean meet.
For Billiat, this game, this goal, was a meeting of body and soul for a footballer who has been searching for himself in the Chiefs colours, wondering where the magic he routinely displayed at Sundowns had gone.
And, even the SuperSport TV commentator, appeared lost for words in his live description of a moment of pure genius.
“Just weird, oooooh, from his manual of masterpieces Billiat delivers, can you believe it?” he thundered.
“Chiefs probably marching on now, have you ever (probably wanted to say ‘anything like this?’)
“Khama Billiat, simply sensational, brilliant Billiat at his very best, Khama Billiat producing a sensational (goal), just watching it l feel l have lost my voice.”
And SuperSport TV even posted a picture of the goal on Twitter and how their commentator captured the moment.
“Khama Billiat goal in the Nedbank Cup semi-final was so good that Duane Dell’Oca almost lost his voice from screaming,” the company said.
The Zimbabwean star then dedicated his man-of-the-match award to the Chiefs fans, who have endured a disappointing season, and said he hoped they will eventually win the Nedbank Cup.
“Firstly, I want to thank the coach, I want to thank God, I want to thank the chairman and Amakhosi supporters that have been patient with us,” he told Supersport TV.
“It hasn’t been a great season but they deserve something.
“Hopefully we won’t just be part of the final.
We want to take it home. The fans deserve better. We want to boost confidence for next season.
“This award is for our supporters. It really means a lot to us the support they give us throughout the games even if sometimes we have bad games. But they are always there for us, giving us confidence.
“I always knew that this is a team to win trophies with. We don’t want to get carried away.
We have to prepare, we still have games in between. Hopefully, when it comes to the final we are all ready to give the fans a smile at the end of the final.”