By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE international Khama Billiat has been named among the best performers in the CAF Champions League after his priceless goal guided South African club Kaizer Chiefs to the quarterfinals of the continent’s premier club competition.
The 30-year-old attacking midfielder, who was making his first start for Chiefs since recovering from a serious injury that had kept him out since January, grabbed a 76th minute equalizer for Chiefs as they twice came from behind in the final Group C match away to Guinea giants, AC Horoya.
Billiat’s goal ensured the match ended 2-2, with both teams tied on nine points in Group C, behind group winners Wydad Casablanca, of Morocco.
Kaizer Chiefs however progressed to the quarter-finals, for the first time in their history, due to superior head-to-head advantage.
In recognition of his heroics, Billiat was included in the Team of the Week released after the final round of the ground stage played over the weekend.
Billiat is the only Kaizer Chiefs player in the Team of the Week which is dominated by players from North African clubs.
The recognition, meanwhile, comes after Billiat was deployed to a new role in the game after coach Gavin Hunt decided to field him as center forward instead of his familiar position as a winger or a number 10.
After Billiat’s crucial goal secured qualification for his team, Hunt said the Zimbabwean star plays better when employed in the center-forward role rather than as a winger.
“I tried to go a little bit narrow on the left-hand side after taking Happy (Mashiane) off. So we went a little bit narrow and played Mshini (Nkosingiphile Ngcobo) on the left-hand side. Obviously we needed (Lazarous) Kambole to come on and then I put Billiat at number nine,” explained Hunt after the match.
“He (Billiat) is a striker and not a wide player. I’ve always seen him play wide. I prefer him as a striker, but I have not had the opportunity to play him (as a striker) because we have been struggling in the wide areas,” added the former Bidvest Wits coach.
Billiat has endured a difficult run since joining Kaizer Chiefs where he has been subject to much criticism over a perceived lack of consistency.
The Warriors player, however, silenced critics at the weekend and will gain confidence from his contribution in Kaizer chiefs crucial victory over AC Horoya of Guinea.