SOUTH Africa: Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has explained the placidity behind Khama Billiat’s game in recent weeks, and says he is not alarmed.
Billiat was a mainstay for Downs in their Absa Premiership triumph last season, ending as the fourth top goalscorer – just two behind winner Collins Mbesuma, and continued his form into their successful CAF Champions League campaign.
The reigning Absa Premiership Footballer of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year, though, seems to have faded somewhat as he managed just his third league goal this season in their 2-1 win over Platinum Stars last night.
Mosimane, meanwhile, says he is pleased with the tranquility of his star player, and explains that the change in his contribution is down to his development into a team player.
“What I’m happy about is Khama [has been] a little bit quiet,” said Mosimane. “You know that talk of being top goalscorer was also giving him a hard time last year.
“I spoke to him this year and said, ‘leave it. Do you want to be top goalscorer in South Africa or Africa player of the year?’
“I said [to Billiat], ‘what you got is huge – second best African player of the year – it’s big’; I said, ‘sometimes you are not going to score all the goals, and you have to play for the team’.
“He did exceptionally well against Pirates, I think you saw the balls he laid – I think he gave Percy [Tau] two or three; Thapelo [Morena] one. He was a team player.
“He’s maturing. He’s no longer a youngster and he’s no longer playing for glory.”
In as much as Mosimane admits the 26-year-old Zimbabwean international has done well for himself over the last 18 months, he hopes Billiat does not become complacent as he feels he can still win Africa’s biggest individual prize.
“I think what helped him [mature] was to win footballer of the year in South Africa, and now he was named Africa’s second-best player of the year, which is quality,” he added.
“He now starts to understand. I hope he’s not sitting on his laurels to say, ‘I’ve made it now, what else?’ He must be African footballer of the year.
“Here’s the Champions League [about to] start. If he came second [last year], there’s one more step [this year].”