Saturday, June 23, 2018

Stuck in SA

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WARRIORS star Khama Billiat has signed for Kaizer Chiefs on a three-year deal, in a move that should surprise many of his followers, ending speculation of him playing in Europe.
BY HENRY MHARA
The in-demand attacker had reportedly drawn interest from across Europe and Asia, and he had insisted that he would prefer a move to the former.
Azerbaijan champions Qarabag were said to be the front runners for his signature, while Romanian giants Steaua București and Djurgården of Sweden were also reportedly interested.
Zamalek of Egypt made a formal offer last week, said to be worth $45 000 a month, which the player turned down on Thursday.
However, Billiat, whose contract with South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns ends at the end of the month, snubbed an opportunity to renew with the Brazilians, and opted to join rivals Chiefs.
The Soweto giants confirmed the transfer yesterday, in what is their biggest transfer business in the current window.
They announced the big signing‚ along with Madagascar international midfielder Andriamirado “Dux” Hasina Andrianarimanana and defender Letlhogonolo Mirwa on their official website yesterday afternoon.
“Kaizer Chiefs have signed three new players for the upcoming 2018/2019 season. They are Khama Billiat, Letlhogonolo Mirwa and Andriamirado Andrianarimanana. The offensive midfielder Billiat joins from Mamelodi Sundowns on a three-year contract with an option of one further year,” the club’s football manager Bobby Motaung announced.
“Left-back Mirwa is signed from ABC Motsepe league side Buya Msuthu FC on a three-year deal (with an option of a further year), while another offensive midfielder, Andrianarimanana comes from Fosa Juniors FC from Madagascar and joins on a two-year contract with an option of one more year. Andrianarimanana was selected as the best player of the recently finished 2018 Cosafa Cup, which was held in South Africa. It is with great pleasure that we welcome these players into the Kaizer Chiefs
family.”
Billiat was the South African Premier Soccer League’s Footballer and Player’s Player of the Season when Sundowns won the Absa Premiership in 2015-16.
He saw little action last season though due to injuries, but sparkled to his best when he returned later in the season, helping his side, who were tussling for the title, to get over the line.
The 27-year-old was the star player in Downs’ 2016 Caf Champions League victory and brings desperately-needed class to Chiefs‚ who have not won a trophy in their past three seasons.
The move would come as a huge surprise though to his supporters, who thought the speedy winger was ripe for Europe.
“I have got a couple of offers and we will see what’s best for Khama Billiat and where the future is going to be‚” he said.
“I don’t want to lie to myself‚ I have been happy [at Sundowns]. It’s just me trying to challenge myself and see how far I can go. They have been good to me.
“I just pray to God and hope the decision that we are going to make at the end is going to be the right decision that makes everyone who believes in me and everyone who has been supporting me and the whole nation happy.
“That’s why I never rush anything‚ I have time in my hands and I don’t have any pressure. I can always make a decision even at the last minute but I hope it’s going to be a great decision at the end.”
Billiat and his agent Mike Ngobeni had not responded to questions sent to them by this publication, on his decision to switch to Chiefs.
He becomes the third Zimbabwean player at Kaizer Chiefs, joining Willard Katsande and Teenage Hadebe.
Another Zimbabwean, Edmore Chirambadare, was released by the club at the end of last season.
An integral part of the Warriors squad, Billiat recently helped the team to Cosafa Cup glory in South Africa, scoring a brace in the 4-2 final win over Zambia.