IT WAS hailed as a coup of the year, with Bobby Motaung making a trip to Zimbabwe to beg Khama Billiat not to renew his contract with Mamelodi Sundowns in 2018 so he could join Kaizer Chiefs.
Billiat has now entered his fifth season at Amakhosi — the same number of years he spent at Sundowns, where he had a successful return after his arrival from Ajax Cape Town.
But his spell at Amakhosi is not what many — surely including Chiefs team manager Motaung when he flew to Harare — had hoped for when he joined the club four years ago, with his stock falling alarmingly, so much so that many believe Amakhosi have not got any return on their investment on the player who was at one time said to be the highest paid in the Premier Soccer League.
At Sundowns, the 32-year-old won seven trophies and was named PSL player of the year in 2016, but thus far he’s won nothing with Chiefs, coming close to snatching the league in 2020 and the Nedbank Cup in 2019.
While Chiefs have been in decline, Billiat has also failed to replicate his Downs stats. He played 140 matches at Chloorkop and contributed towards 90 goals, with 43 of his own and 47 assists, to help Sundowns clinch trophies during Pitso Mosimane’s era.
At Chiefs, he has featured in 117 games, scoring 27 and assisting with 24 goals and is credited with 51 assists. The Zimbabwean international, who has been out injured, continues to attract criticism from a section of the club’s supporters as they have pointed out he’s failed to live up to expectations and carry the team as a senior player.
His demenour in some matches has also come under fi re as at times he’s appeared too disinterested, although he does come up with a magic occasionally. However, ex-Chiefs striker Shane McGregor said it is difficult to judge if the club is getting their investment on Billiat, as he was not surrounded with the same quality of players he had at Sundowns.
“I think he has been under a lot of pressure and he needs to rediscover his form. I’m not too sure what his work ethic is like, I’m not too sure if he is working hard,” McGregor told Sowetan.
“But these things happen to all players. You go through patches and class is permanent and form is temporary. And he is getting older now and it is a bit difficult, the game has changed and it is a lot quicker.
“You must also understand Sundowns and Chiefs are two completely different teams. Sundowns have been winning everything, they are a top team and brought in players all the time. “So that’s a big difference, when you are playing in a good team it’s a lot easier and when you go into a struggling team, it will be a little bit harder.
“You can’t just say because he is the highest-paid player, then he should be doing this and that. You got to have players around you to help you. It is a difficult one to say.” Billiat is yet to score this season in seven appearances across all competitions, but he’s missed recent games through injury. — Sowetan