By Robson Sharuko
After a lengthy absence, stretching 10 league games, spread over three months and 1008 minutes of action, Khama Billiat finally made his long-awaited return to the Kaizer Chiefs fold yesterday.
The Zimbabwe international forward suffered a horrible injury, in the league match against Maritzburg United, on January 9, this year.
He was pulled out of the match, in the 48th minute, of that match, which the Amakhosi lost 0-2, and had been on the sidelines, since, for both club and country.
He missed Chiefs’ 10 league matches against Amazulu (twice), Cape Town City, Tshakuma, Stellenbosch, Baroka, Orlando Pirates (twice), SuperSport United and Maritzburg United.
Billiat also missed the Warriors’ 2021 AFCON qualifiers against Botswana, in Francistown, and the final match against Zambia, at the National Sports Stadium.
Last week, Billiat revealed he was now feeling better and was ready for a return to action.
“It has been difficult,” he told the Amakhosi official website. “We are professional footballers and we always want to contribute by playing through hard and good times so you can grow as a person.
“I got injured against Maritzburg United and I never saw it coming.
“I have never been in a situation where I have had to miss so many games. It was difficult for me. I thought I would push myself harder and come back as soon as possible but I understand that everything happens for a reason.
“I thank God for the strength, and I feel better at the moment.
“It was great to see the Zimbabwe qualify for AFCON last weekend.”
Yesterday, after 65 minutes, Chiefs coach, Gavin Hunt, threw Billiat into the fold in the league match against Stellenboch at the FNB Stadium.
He replaced Lebogang Manyama.
The Amakhosi twice fought back, to force a share of the spoils, against the plucky visitors with another Chiefs substitute, Leonardo Castro, who was introduced at the same time with Billiat, on target.
Last week, former Zimbabwe international forward, Wilfred “Silver Fox” Mugeyi, said he believed Biliat’s injuries were being caused by, among other things, stress.
“You know, to be honest, I’m also surprised because if you look when he played for Ajax (Cape Town), when we had Khama at Ajax, Khama was never injured,” Mugeyi told KickOff.com.
“I don’t recall Khama missing a game. And we had three, four years with him.
“At Sundowns, yes, there was a time when he broke his metatarsal. I think he was out for almost three months or something like that.
“Then, from there, he played without a lot of injuries.
“But, when he went to Chiefs he played two games and one month he’s out. He comes back, three games . . . two months he’s out.
“So, I don’t really know what’s the problem. As I just said, we signed him (at Ajax) as a 16-year-old. He never missed a game.”
Billiat had a number of touches yesterday but could not influence the game, in a way which his fellow substitute Castro, did.
Chiefs, though, will consider themselves unlucky not to have been given what looked like a clear penalty, when Willard Katsande, who had a good second half after being recalled into the starting XI, was fouled inside the box.
The referee, Michael Mosemeng, instead, waved play on and Nathan Sinkala, who had committed the offence, went on to score at the other end, with a header, to put Stellenbosch into the lead.
Yesterday’s match was Chiefs’ 20th league game of the season.
Such has been their miserable campaign that Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, who scored the goal which helped Chiefs to salvage the point, is now their leading scorer, with just four goals.
At the weekend, Bernard Parker scored his first goal, for the Amakhosi, after more than 700 days, in their victory over Wydad Casablanca, in the CAF Champions League. Chiefs have only scored 21 goals, in their 20 league matches, at an average of a goal every game.
They have won just five of those matches, drawn nine and lost six.
Meanwhile, the South African football authorities have responded to the circus at Chippa United, the world’s most turbulent football club, following their appointment of Belgian expatriate, Luc Eymael, as their technical advisor.
Last year, SAFA said they would ensure the Belgian would not be allowed to work in South Africa, after he was forced out of Tanzanian side, Young Africans, under a cloud, after making some racist comments. However, Eymael challenged that, with his lawyers, and SAFA appeared to suggest they didn’t have the powers to bar him, from working in South Africa, paving the way for Chippa United to appoint him, in the latest technical changes, at the club.
However, SAFA’s communications director, Dominic Chimhavi, yesterday said they had not approved the Belgian’s appointment and would take up the matter with relevant authorities.
“What we have done, we’ve taken this matter to the SAFA Ethics Committee to make a determination because we take these racism allegations very seriously,” Chimhavi told KickOff.com
“We have always insisted that in our sport there is no room for racism. What we heard from the Tanzanian Football Association and the clips which we received from the Tanzanian Football Federation are very serious allegations.
“And as a result for us to be also on the safe side we have referred this issue to our SAFA Ethics Committee, which will make a determination, and we have also escalated this issue to the FIFA Ethics Committee to come up with a legal determination.
“I mean there are issues whereby people are saying SAFA has cleared him . . . we haven’t cleared him. We were just saying, “as the Association we don’t bar anyone from coaching, we don’t issue work permits, but we issued our thorough reservations with regards to racism allegations.”
“And that’s why we have escalated the issue. Those are the bodies which are going to determine whether this man is in the good or this man is in the wrong.”