Zim’s gift to SA football


JOHANNESBURG – Khama Billiat has sung the praises of Zimbabwe’s talent production line saying it is the reason why the country’s footballers continue to ride rough shoulders above the rest in the South African Premiership.

Billiat, who is in the running to be crowned the best player in the South African Premiership, could have easily been forgiven for basking in his own glory but chose to focus on the brilliance of Zimbabwean players.

He noted his countrymen’s resilience and mentality as the cornerstone that has seen them rise to be the darlings of many football fanatics.

“I think it all comes with the mentality,” he told South Africa’s Citizen on Tuesday.

“You can have the best players but if they are not willing to achieve the same goal then it’s a different team.”

His sentiments come as Zimbabweans continue to flourish in the Absa Premiership after finding refuge here as the country’s football structures remain on shaky ground precipitated by a collapsing economy.

And despite the odds stacked against them, nothing has been able to silence Zimbabwe’s talent across the Limpopo.

It is the same determination that made stars out of Tinashe Nengomasha, Willard Katsande and Benjani Mwaruwaru.

Evans Rusike (Maritzburg United) and Tendai Ndoro (Orlando Pirates) also set the Super Diski alight with their performances in the 2015/16 season, which comes to an end this weekend with the Nedbank Cup final. 

However, there is no denying that it was Billiat, who constantly had fans on the edge of their seats with a prolific 2015-16 season that helped Mamelodi Sundowns win the title with a record 71 points.

The Zimbabwean was also instrumental in the Tshwane-based side’s road to clinching the Telkom Knockout trophy.

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On the assists front, there was no one near the Zimbabwean as he went on to provide a staggering 20 in all competitions for Pitso Mosimane’s side. 

Together with teammates Keagan Dolly and Hlompho Kekana, the Brazilians trio was named as the nominees for the Footballer of the Season award.

The 25-year-old Zimbabwean, who was the shining beacon in the fearsome Sundowns CBD frontline which also featured Dolly and Leonardo Castro, has now turned his attention to representing Zimbabwe in the qualifiers for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations to be held in Gabon.

Zimbabwe currently top Group L with eight points, following two wins and two draws from four games.

The Warriors now face Malawi on June 5 at the National Sports Stadium with victory edging them closer to Gabon.

Malawi are bottom of the group with two points and Billiat believes a positive result against the Flames will pave their way to Gabon.

“We have been looking to qualify for a long time and now we are just one game away, which is something everyone is looking forward to,” he said.

“It is very important to me. I have always wanted to be in this situation, to have an opportunity to fight for the country and help them qualify.”

Billiat will hope to translate his club form to national duty following an almost flawless season.

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