HAPPY BIRTHDAY KHAMA…but Zim football ace continues to split opinion
Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
KHAMA BILLIAT turned 28 on Sunday, but the Zimbabwe international forward, widely believed to be the highest paid footballer in South Africa, continues to be a source of friction as the wounds inflicted by his decision to join Kaizer Chiefs refuse to heal.
The Amakhosi took to Twitter and Facebook to congratulate their prized possession after the Soweto giants, who are the most popular football club in South Africa, broke the bank to lure Billiat into their kraal.
The forward allowed his contract at Sundowns to come to an end.
Billiat had a successful marriage with Sundowns where he won three league titles, including one in his final campaign with them, and also helped the Pretoria side write their first African Champions League success story when they transformed themselves into kings of the continent.
He also won the Nedbank Cup, the premier knock-out football tournament in South Africa, with Sundowns while also winning the Telkom Knock-out Trophy and the CAF Super Cup during his stay with the Brazilians.
Two years ago, Billiat was also honoured as the Footballer of the Season, ABSA Premiership Players’ Player of the Season and the ABSA Premiership Midfielder of the Season at the PSL awards where he swept the honours and took home R450 000.
There were expectations that he would move to Europe, after his contract had expired at Sundowns, but Billiat chose to cross the floor and join Kaizer Chiefs who struggled badly last season, leading to unrest among their fans who were unhappy with the team’s poor campaign.
The Zimbabwean was the marquee signing that Chiefs believed would turn the Amakhosi into a competitive team once again, good enough to fight for honours, including the league championship, but after a promising opening day when they drew at champions Sundowns, it has all gone downhill for them.
This is now the worst Chiefs start to the season in the era of the South African Premiership and Billiat is yet to score a league goal in the few games he has played for them.
The Amakhosi congratulated him on his 28th birthday, using their Twitter and Facebook accounts, but the responses show the deep divisions that have been created by his decision to leave Sundowns and move to the Soweto giants.
‘’Happy Birthday Khama #BilliatsBirthday #HailTheChief #Amakhosi4Life,’’ tweeted Chiefs.
Billiat also took to Twitter to thank everyone who had wished him well on his special day.
‘’Thank you all for the birthday wishes, gifts, calls, May God be with you,’’ he said.
However, there were some mixed responses, which show the divisions which his move to the Amakhosi triggered in South African football.
Former Kaizer Chiefs defender, Thomas Sweswe, a fellow Zimbabwean who is now the secretary-general of the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe, said ‘’happy belated birthday mafana,’’ while someone Boyzee Lizza said, ‘’you’re one of the best Africa has ever produced.’’
Trevor Matengu said although he was a Downs fan, he found it necessary to wish Billiat a ‘’happy belated birthday boy, I am a true Downs fan but I like you a lot. Good luck (at) your new team,’’ while Vusumuzi Oscar Zulu said, ‘’we thank the Mighty Lord for keeping you safe. Guys can you be aggressive towards goals please.
‘’We know you can do better.’’
Veli Magubane was not complimentary, though.
‘’I am also suspecting the guy is here to milk Chiefs. He is uncharacteristically wasteful,’’ he said, while Richie Mofokeng said, ‘’happy birthday Brilliant Billiat . . . just play (your) normal game, we will definitely win the MTN8 Cup to ease the pressure on the camp.
‘’The team is playing well but the pressure of winning is getting to you guys, the real Khosi nation understand that we are in a transition phase.’’
Here are some of the responses:
‘’Happy birthday #Khama, you’re a great player every coach would like to have in his team, no wonder your previous mentor was so furious with you leaving the team. Even the supporters from your previous team are calling you nasty names today simply because they didn’t expect you to leave their beloved club for a club that they thought couldn’t afford to pay you a salary that’ll make you happy.
‘’We as Chiefs fans love you boy, as a result you’re being supported and loved by millions of football fans instead of thousands because Chiefs will forever dominate in terms of the supporters. Feel at home, everything will fall into place soon, nobody can take that talent away from you, they’ll just hate and that’s all.’’
‘’Khama R833 000pm (per month) for nothing, Billiat, milk Kaizer Chiefs until they become dry mfana wami. Make sure you don’t disappoint.’’
Luzuko Ningo Bobo
‘’Happy birthday Khama but I’m honestly starting to lose patience with you buddy. Reason is that we signed you to give us goals as you were giving Sundowns but now I see a more relaxed Khama, unlike the one that was at Downs. Pull up your socks, please.’’
‘’Pisto (has) remarkable skills of building, perfecting and combining players, Billiat joined Sundowns from Ajax as (an average) player, after joining Sundowns he was nominated for the best African Player and also became a Player of the Season in 2016.
‘’We cannot deny the fact that Pitso played a vital role on Khama’s success, I think this was supposed to be a good season for him at Sundowns after Percy Tau’s exit, but I can honestly say that there are no prospects of success for Billiat at Chiefs.’’
‘’Happy Birthday Khama, we know you gonna bring it, irrespective of what others believe, it’s something within you, the best ever known.’’
‘’Khama is (an) overrated player. Last season he scored less than 10 goals in an entire season. We should invest more into youth development to discover a new Phil Masinga, Fani Madida, Mbesuma, Ndlanya who have abilities to score in front of goal.’’
‘’I love Khama Billiat but stop trying to play like CR7 because you cost our team against Maritzburg United.’’