DURBAN – Khama Billiat’s absence from Kaizer Chiefs’ opening two Absa Premiership matches has served to fuel the off-season rumours that the Zimbabwean is on his way out of the club.
But coach Ernst Middendorp said at the weekend that nothing could be further from the truth.
“Khama Billiat, the chairman of the club (Kaizer Motaung), the marketing department and the technical team is aware he came back from the Africa Cup of Nations with an issue on his left knee,” Middendorp said during the post-match media conference of Chiefs’ league success over Black Leopards at the Moses Mabhida Stadoum.on Saturday night.
“He joined us after three days of our pre-season. It was on July 16 and he stayed for until the 18th. We then travelled to Botswana and he didn’t go with us.”
The story that has been doing the rounds is that the Zimbabwean star was set to return to Mamelodi Sundowns who lost him to Amakhosi for free after his contract expired.
There is also talk of interest from parts of the continent with Moroccan powerhouse, Raja Casablanca believed to have tabled an offer in the region of R20-million for Billiat which Chiefs apparently turned down.
But Middendorp insisted that the Zimbabwean superstar’s absence in their wins over Highlands Park (3-2) and Leopards (1-0) were totally legit and that Billiat should have sat out the pre-season Carling Black Label Cup clash with Orlando Pirates.
“I wouldn’t have played him in the Carling Black Label Cup but he said it was fine. He was voted (into the starting line up by the fans) and he honoured the call and played. But immediately after the game he felt some pain.
“The doctors made the decision on July 30 and we got the results of his left ligament. He had bruises. We had to be careful of it. It was decided that he was going to miss three weeks until August 24,” Chiefs’ German coach explained.
Billiat excelled for Zimbabwe at the Afcon in Egypt although they were sent packing in the group stages of the competition.
“After August 24, Khama will be available for selection and the player is well aware of this process. The chairman also knows what we are doing and how we’ve managed his situation.”
Chiefs experienced turbulent times last season as they finished outside the top eight but Billiat was one of their shinning lights in a campaign to forget. He is expected to play a pivotal role as Amakhosi are aiming to reclaim the glory.