Perhaps what lacked at Kaizer Chiefs, was just love

Khama Billiat’s return to Zimbabwe and subsequent move to ambitious Premiership side Yadah FC, has generated a lot debate among football fans —both in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

The pint-sized Mufakose-bred winger returned home on February 20, to complete his return to local football after incredible success across the Limpopo.

Billiat enjoyed tremendous success in the South African Premiership —where he turned out for Ajax Cape Town, Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs, scoring 97 goals in a glittering career spanning 13 years.

Many didn’t understand why Billiat declined a reported R450 000 per month salary offer by Chiefs to extend his contract at Amakhosi, which ended on June 30, 2023.

The nimble-footed winger not only cast a blind eye on the nearly half a million rand in wages to stay at Amakhosi, but also hit the brakes on the possibility of joining Daniel Mudau, Mabhuti Khenyeza, Siyabonga Nomvethe, Collins Mbesuma, Bradley Grobbler, Manuel Bucuane and Peter Shalulile, as the only players to net 100 goals in the South African top-flight.

He even went AWOL and slammed the door on Chiefs, to the ire of the ‘Khosination’.

‘Lack of love’ at Kaizer Chiefs 

Billiat was the fall guy for the entire five years he was at Amakhosi, with fans, former players and ‘legends’ of the club insisting the pint-sized winger ought to have performed based on his salary — a reported R850 000 a month.

He was on the receiving end of spiteful criticism, which even had xenophobic connotations at times, from fans, pundits and even a section of the South African press.

At one point, South African coach Mlungisi “Professor” Ngubane accused Billiat of “lying about his age and that having a negative impact on his performance at Chiefs.”

The Zimbabwean star was at Amakhosi in arguably the Glamour Boys’ worst era, which included a Premiership title drought stretching back to 2015.

Billiat’s five-year stay at Chiefs was marred by nagging injuries -a knee setback  which kept him out for three weeks in the 2019/20 season, a hamstring problem which sidelined him for six weeks, an achilles tendon issue which kept him out for two weeks during the same season.

In the 2020/21 season, a broken leg kept Billiat out for 81 days, a setback which saw him missing 17 games for Chiefs, while an unknown injury forced him to miss a further 12 games for Amakhosi in the same campaign.

Another knee injury in the 2021/22 season, which kept him out for 41 days, resulted in him missing six games.

A groin problem then kept him out for 145 days, resulting in him missing 15 games.

The ‘lack of love’ amid the nagging injuries as well as constant criticism, might explain his ultimate decision to seek affection back home and boy is he getting it in abundance!

He feels the love back home 

Billiat was unveiled by Yadah at their recently constructed The Heart Stadium yesterday and the former Warriors star’s instant response to the question “why did you come back home?” centred around the word ‘love’.

In fact, he mentioned the word love seven times during his post-unveiling interview.

Yadah FC players give Khama Billiat a guard of honour during his unveiling at The Heart Stadium yesterday.

“I have been home sick for some time and being here means so much love. I really appreciate it and I’m going to enjoy it. Thank you for showing me so much love,” Billiat said after his unveiling.

“I thank God that I still had the chance to play in Zimbabwe and I’m looking forward to just enjoying every minute of it.

“I don’t think I have ever felt like this before. The love that I’m getting, is simply amazing, overwhelming and it’s a great feeling. I can’t wait for the games to begin,” added Billiat.

Khama Billiat’s mother (left) and sister, during the former Warriors star’s unveiling at The Heart Stadium yesterday.

The former Sundowns star insists he chose to join Yadah because of the love he got during the negotiations, from the club’s officials, some of whom he has interacted with at Yadah hotel, during his previous stays there while on national duty.

“Yadah is a special team. I am happy to be here. This is the only place I have been coming to in Zimbabwe over the years, it’s like home to me. They have sacrificed a lot for me to be here and I appreciate it,” said Billiat.

“They (Yadah) sacrificed a lot for me, love starts by sacrifice. Their love was amazing and I couldn’t think of going anywhere else.

“This is amazing. I am hoping to enjoy it, I love my country so much. So I am ready to give out my best,” he added.

Former Warriors team manager Wellington Mpandare, who played a key role in convincing Billiat to return home, believes the love the player got during his unveiling, will spur him forward.

“Like I have always said, a player performs well when he is shown love by those around him. Knowing Khama, he is greatly affected by negativity and harsh criticism, but he thrives in an environment where he is shown love,” said Mpandare.

“That explains why he excelled in the national team, because he was shown immense love by everyone. So the same love he got today (yesterday), will definitely encourage him to do well,” added Mpandare.

Possibility of Warriors return

Billiat has felt so much love during the last 10 days he has been in Zimbabwe, that he is evening considering coming out of international retirement.

The Aces Youth Academy graduate quit international football under unclear circumstances in November 2021.

But he refused to rule out the possibility of a return to the Warriors fold.

“I wanna enjoy every minute of my return to Zimbabwe and if everything is as enjoyable as this, you never know,” said Billiat.

“I’m not promising anything, but I love my country so much, I feeling so much loved and I can change my mind,” added Billiat.

Where there is love, there is life.


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