Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE legend Peter Ndlovu has opened up on the problems that have dogged Khama Billiat and still believes that the talented Mamelodi Sundowns forward could yet make a late break into the more competitive European leagues but if he fully applies himself on his football.
Ndlovu is the team manager at Sundowns which has provided Billiat with the platform to become a household name in the South African Premiership. Billiat is however, in the final season of current deal at Chloorkop and has long been tipped to move abroad nothing tangible has materialised.
Surprisingly some of his former Sundowns teammates Bongani Zungu and Keegan Dolly who always played in his shadows in the last two seasons have since moved overseas and are making inroads in the French Ligue One. Billiat’s contract will expire in June next year but he is still undecided about the future.
Ndlovu, who was the guest of honour at the Castle Soccer Star awards in Harare on Friday night has his gospel on Khama and challenged the Warriors talisman to “do the right things” if he hoped to realise his dream.
The former Zimbabwe captain said Billiat “is a rare talent in the class of Manchester United winger Jesse Lingard’’.
“Of course Khama he is a world class player, let me put it that way. Once he puts his act, once he puts his mind onto his football, you cannot touch Khama.
“Khama reminds me of Lingard at Manchester United. His skills, his penetration, his dribbling, he is an amazing player, I tell you. He just needs to sort the other part that’s lingering around him.
“I have encouraged him to do the right things, he knows the right things; whether he is going or not. But he hasn’t gone yet. Let’s take it that way and I have advised him on what to do.
“But before he goes, he is a Sundowns player and must take care of what happens during that period (and anything can happen).
“The club would have gained on the sales (a year ago), but look we needed Khama as a club, he can always go. Sundowns are not a team that doesn’t help you go.
“If you are doing well and want to go, as long as the fee is right, that’s normal. He has to be sold if under contract. But now coming into a difficult situation, where we don’t know where we are.
“He has performed but I also think he has a lot on his mind and we have tried to help him and hopefully he will come right. But he has to help himself first before we help him,” said Ndlovu.
Billiat (27) has been linked with moves to Europe last year when he was clearly the best on the South African football scene where he scooped all the important awards including the Player of the Year. He was also a first runner up in the CAF Player of the year awards for the best players on the continent behind teammate and goalkeeper Dennis Onyango.
The rumour about a European move has been slowing down with the forward now being linked with switches to Sundowns’ with Supa Diski rivals Cape Town City, Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and clubs in Saudi Arabia.
Billiat is yet to commit his future to the Brazilians and could be sold to the highest bidder before he becomes a free agent in June.
Ndlovu said he has always been a positive influence, not only to Billiat but to a host of upcoming Zimbabwean players dotted around the globe. The former Coventry City man said it’s high time a new legend in his class is born to Zimbabwe.
He said Khama needed to keep on working hard to maintain his standards after he went under just a year following the historic milestone when he swept the boards at the South African awards and also made it among the African Player of the Year finalists.
“When you win stuff like this, it comes with pressure guys, and you need help whatever you are. One you have to make sure you try and do better the following season. How you do that, is to put yourself, how did l do it last, and how can I maintain it the following season.
“But I don’t think we do plan as players, we just think it’s easy. But it’s not. Once you have done it and have done well, it is always hard to maintain.
“But my advice is people like Khama should learn because they are not young anymore, he understands. He is my boy and I always speak to him about it and he knows. I have told him how I treated football.
“Yes, football comes with a lot of things, a lot of challenges, a lot of jealousy, women, whatever but put your focus on where it matters. It doesn’t matter what they say about you outside the field go and produce, that’s all.
“That’s how you are going to be judged. I just want to thank the media also for actually looking out after these players; talking well about them and marketing them for the clubs, and it is very important that you help us instead of putting these players in the deep end. But I understand the environment.
“I have been (influential) not only to Khama, but to any Zimbabwean in Europe, South Africa. I phone everybody throughout the world because I am proudly Zimbabwean first. I have gained everything I got from football, so it is not in my nature.
“I even challenge him Khama, how do you feel now that at my age, people are saying Peter-Peter, they must be saying Khama-Khama. It is unfair on you guys.
“People can see that I am trying hard to bring somebody, any other name that can emerge so that they can say go on Peter, here he comes. But they (the players) come in halves. They come up and go down very fast. We have to try and help and encourage them. But it is hard when someone doesn’t want to be helped,” said Ndlovu.