Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
AJAX Cape Town hotshot Khama Billiat has expressed his huge relief at being cleared from the Asiagate scam and insisted that he always knew that he was innocent.
The diminutive forward told The Herald that he had received
incredible support from his club and teammates, during the period when he was under the Asiagate cloud.
He declared he was now ready to resume his Warriors career with his focus firmly set on qualification for the 2013 African Cup of Nations finals.
Billiat was included among a 33-man list of players who became the first batch to be cleared from match-fixing allegations following a Zifa board meeting that was held in the capital on Friday.
France-based midfielder Ovidy Karuru, Moroka Swallows’ Oscar Machapa and Willard Katsande, who plies his trade with Kaizer Chiefs were among the list, which was dominated by those players who were members of the national Under-20 squad that took part on the controversial tours to Asia.
Zifa had in February suspended Billiat along with more than 90 other players who had been fingered in an earlier Asiagate report that was compiled by the Ndumiso Gumede probe team.
The association commissioned an Independent Ethic Committee, led by retired Supreme Court judge Justice Ahmed Ebrahim to conduct the final probe, into the Asiagate scandal and clear those they believe to be innocent while also recommending sanctions for those they find guilty.
Ebrahim recommended that Billiat and 32 others, as well as former Warriors coach Jose Valinhos, be cleared in what is the first major step that Zifa have taken in bringing the long-dragging matter to finality.
Billiat, who has enjoyed yet another good season with the Urban Warriors scoring seven league goals and five in the cup games to date, could not hide his joy at having his name cleared.
He revealed that he had remained focused on his club career he was constantly thinking of the Asiagate cloud that has been hanging over all the players fingered in the report.
“Of course, I knew I had not done anything wrong but I just had to wait. I am so happy because it is something that has been hanging over my head. Although I think did well to try and ensure that it didn’t affect my game but you always want something like that out of the way,’’ Billiat said.
The former Aces Youth Academy forward, who has become Ajax Cape Town’s talisman since Thulani Serero’s departure for the Netherlands, also revealed his excitement at being able to be considered for Warriors duties again.
“I am looking forward to coming back into the national team. I am more than 100 percent ready to make sure that I give something to the nation.
“It is also my biggest ambition to play for my country at a big tournament and we really have to qualify for the Nations Cup.
“The fact that it is being played here in South Africa makes us want to qualify because I know that some of my teammates will also be there playing for Bafana Bafana so I am ready to play a big part for the Warriors to try and qualify’’.
Billiat also spoke of the support he had received from his teammates and club officials at the Urban Warriors when Zifa announced that they had suspended him from national duty.
“I must say the club was very supportive and they told me that they were all behind me and believed in me when I told them I was innocent.
“Once I got all their support it became easier for me to focus on my club commitments.
“It is a pity that we are not in the running for the championship but we have three games to play including our outstanding match against Kaizer Chiefs in Polokwane
on Wednesday (tomorrow) but we want to finish as high as we can and be in the top eight.
“We had a new coach this season and that meant we changed the tactics that we were using and so we had to adapt to the changes but I think we still did well.
“I will be able to compare the seasons next year because you can really make a comparisons to the seasons that you play under one coach,’’ Billiat said.
Billiat, however, reckoned that his game had improved largely due to the exposure he got during his attachment to Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam in January where
he was one of four Urban Warriors who travelled to Holland for a training stint under Frank De Boer.
The others were George Maluleke Nazeer Allie and Thato Mokete.