Khama set to fly to Ghana Khama Billiat

Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor

KHAMA BILLIAT will travel with the Warriors to Ghana next week, even though he is ineligible for the match against the Black Stars in their backyard, after picking two yellow cards, in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

Coach Norman Mapeza wants the Kaizer Chiefs forward to train with the rest of his teammates in the West African country ahead of the reverse encounter in Harare, a few days later.

The Black Stars will host the Warriors next Saturday, before the two teams clash at the National Sports Stadium the following Tuesday.

Billiat will not feature in the match in Ghana after running into a disciplinary storm when he accumulated two yellow cards in the World Cup qualifiers.

The Warriors were held to a disappointing goalless home draw by Bafana Bafana, in their first group match before they slumped to a shock 0-1 defeat at the hands of Ethiopia in their next match.

They find themselves bottom of their group with just a single point from their opening two matches but without a goal to show for their shift over 180 minutes of action.

Billiat has been one of the team’s leading players, since he broke into the Warriors, and was the hero when his two goals powered them to a 2-1 victory over Zambia, in Lusaka, in a 2021 AFCON qualifier.

However, he has been struggling to regain his form as he eases back into his rhythm after a lengthy period on the sidelines, in which he has battled a succession of injuries.

Mapeza, who replaced the hapless Zdravko Logarusic, at the helm of the Warriors, after the clueless Serb was finally fired, having only won one of his 14 matches in charge, insisted he wanted Billiat to be part of travelling party in Ghana.

‘’The coach said he wanted Khama to be with us in Ghana because we will have more time there, in terms of training together, compared to when we come back to prepare for the home match,’’ said Warriors team manager, Wellington Mpandare.

‘’The coach has his way, which he wants the team to play, and he feels Khama should be with the rest of his teammates in Ghana so that he also gets to see and understand, how the coach wants them to play going forward.

‘’We think this makes sense because this is not only about the first game in Ghana, which Khama will miss, but also about the second match here in Harare.

‘’There isn’t enough time, between the two matches, when you really look at it and we will probably have more time, in terms of training, in Ghana than here in Harare.

‘’You can’t only look at this in terms of who is playing in Ghana, and who is not, but you also have to take into consideration the other match, which we will play in Harare, a few days later.

‘’Khama is a very key member of our team and it’s not about what he only does on the field, but also what he does in terms of boosting the team’s morale by his mere presence in the squad.’’

The Warriors have been struggling for goals, in the World Cup qualifiers and, in a game where they need a shock away win to revive their World Cup campaign, they will have to find a way to end 17 years of waiting.

Their last victory on the road, in a World Cup qualifier, came on July 3, 2004, when they beat Rwanda 2-0 in Kigali.

They were under the guidance of Rahman Gumbo, when they beat the Wasps in their backyard, through goals from Peter Ndlovu, the greatest Warrior of all-time, and midfielder Tinashe Nengomasha.

Given the need for firepower, in their ranks, for them to have any chance of beating the Black Stars, in Ghana next week, there have been questions as to why in-form Ipswich Town striker, Macauley Bonne, was left out of the squad.

‘’The seven-goal frontman’s omission comes as a surprise, given his form for Town, and after he was named in the initial party for the internationals earlier this month, although the 25-year-old ultimately didn’t travel due to EFL clubs not releasing players for matches in countries on the Government’s red list,’’ reported local Ipswich media organisation, www,

‘’Ghana, who host the first match on Saturday 9th October, isn’t on the red list but Zimbabwe still is and ZIFA say discussions are ongoing regarding the involvement of the English-based players included in the squad in the game in Harare on Tuesday 12th October.

‘’Bonne being left out of the Zimbabwe squad means it’s less likely Town’s home game with Shrewsbury on Saturday 9th October will be postponed due to international calls.

‘’Midfielder Sam Morsy has already been named in the Egypt squad while Bersant Celina seems likely to be included by Kosovo for their games in Sweden on Saturday 9th October and at home to Georgia three days later.’’

However, sources within the Warriors camp told The Herald yesterday they were not convinced Bonne would fly to Ghana for the match.

‘’There is no question about the fact that, in terms of form, he is right there at the top right now and he has been scoring goals for his club and would have been a good addition to the team,’’ the sources said.

‘’But, we really needed the players we were sure were committed, 100 percent, to be with the tem to play in the match.

‘’We have doubts about Bonne, we don’t really know why that is the case but, if a player is in England right now, and his Zimbabwean passport is still in Harare, two years after people moved mountains to secure it, it’s hard to believe he will be there, where he is needed.’’

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