Opinion: Why Billiat must leave Kaizer Chiefs

By David Minchella - 15 August 2019Views : 6095


Perhaps the hottest topic in South African football at the moment is speculation that Kaizer Chiefs star Khama Billiat could make a R15 million return to Mamelodi Sundowns. SABN's David Minchella looks at why he must return to the Brazilians.

At the age of 28, Billiat is at the peak of his career and if he is fortunate and remains fully fit - he could continue to produce his best form towards approaching his say 32nd or 33th birthday.

The fact is that Chiefs are in a re-building stage and there is no guarantee that coach Ernst Middendorp's methods will work in the long term. Yes, the Glamour Boys have won two matches in a row at the start of 2019/20 but you cannot gloss over the failings of last season.

Finishing ninth and losing the final of the Nedbank Cup to TS Galaxy was a major backwards step in the sense there was little progress after the German had taken over from Giovanni Solinas.

Factor in that Middendorp is a physically demanding coach who demands strict structural tactical play whether you are the no-nonsense centre-back or a mercurial expressive nine-and-a-half like Billiat.

He expects players to work both in possession and out of possession which does not entirely suit the Zimbabwe international's style of play.

He can be temperamental and drift out of games at times and he seems to thrive when he is given freedom to roam and find space in and around the final third. He is an instinctive attacker who trusts his football brain to take him to the spaces of optimal danger.

With all this said, it seems clear he is not the right fit for Chiefs. He is in the best years of his career and if Middendorp doesn't bring success this season - the re-building will have to start all over again under a new coach and this takes time.

It also appears his naturally expressive and instinctive style of play is being restricted by the more stringent defensive tactical demands of Middendorp.

Yet, if he moves back to Sundowns he will arrive at a club that are still at the height of their powers. The majority of the squad that won the 2016 CAF Champions League are still there, and Gaston Sirino as well as Lebohang Maboe added firepower last season as well.

The famous 5-1 humbling of Egyptian giants Al Ahly in a CCL quarterfinal was great evidence of a team playing at its absolute limit.

In addition, coach Pitso Mosimane supports the tradition of 'Shoeshine and Piano' with the Brazilians. He has previously said he wants to see the likes of Maboe, Sirino and Themba Zwane 'dance with the ball.' Rather than an 'Ernst workhorse' which can strangle a natural attacking game.

Therefore, it is clearly a no-brainer that Billiat must return to Sundowns. He has the best chance to win trophies under 'Jingles' and can compete with the very best in Africa consistently.

As opposed to last season with Chiefs when he went out in the preliminary rounds of the CAF Confederations Cup - Africa's Europa League - after losing twice to Zesco United. What a fall from grace for a player that started both legs of the CAF Champions League final victory over Zamalek in 2016.

From Amakhosi's perspective, perhaps it might be best to let him go - a player that doesn't want to be at your club can be a liability. Cash-in now and pin your hopes on Lazarous Kambole, Samir Nurkovic and Leonardo Castro doing the business in attack.