DUTCH junior football expert and former Ajax Cape Town coach Jan Pruijn believes Warriors and Mamelodi Sundowns player Khama Billiat is now ripe for a move to Europe.
Pruijin, who was in the country assisting new local football academy Sports Avenue Academy to scout for talent at the weekend, said the winger who started his professional career at Ajax should move to relatively weak European league like the Belgian and Swedish leagues and use that as a springboard to move to a big and more competitive league.
While lauding the huge and undoubted talents of Billiat, Pruijn reckons the 24-year-old speedster still needs to work on other aspects of his game if he is to fully reach his potential.
Pruijin previously worked as a football consultant for clubs such as Real Sociedad, FC Porto and FC Basel, and a couple of clubs from England worked with Billiat at Ajax Cape Town from 2010 to 2013 in different capacities mostly as an interim coach and director of football.
“He has developed 100%, not just under me, but under the guidance of different coaches and he is still improving in the last two seasons with Sundowns. Billiat is a natural talented player, he was gifted from birth. I’m not sure which academy he came from in Zimbabwe, but for sure they fine-tuned him a little bit better other than the natural talent he had.
“When he came to Ajax he was the player who could make a difference in the team, but he was still lacking a lot of habits that are needed for the European level. For Khama the question is now simple, he is now mentally and well-educated enough at this moment in combination with his natural quality that he can play Europe. Technically, I think he is 100% ready to go to Europe, but tactically and mentally he needs to improve just like how Thulani Serero learnt when he joined Ajax Amsterdam that he wasn’t a great player despite being the best player in South Africa and he had to work hard to improve in those few aspects,” said Pruijin.
“Khama is one of the best or maybe the best I think in his age category in Zimbabwe, but to make it into a club like Ajax and become a regular starter he needs to improve just like Serero when he joined.The first year it was not so easy because he realised that he needed to work hard in the gym and with good nutrition and with some mental guidance. So if an opportunity arrive for Khama I think he will need to improve on the mental side just a little bit more out of the technical ability that he has,” he added.
Pruijin said Billiat need to join his compatriots Nyasha Mushekwi and Archford Gutu in Sweden and look for a better opportunity from that side.
While heaping praise on Mushekwi saying he has a room for improvement, but he believes Gutu has stagnated.
“Khama is still good enough to play in Sweden and Belgium at this moment. Archford Gutu is a player that has a good physical presence and he can make it in that league (Sweden), but I don’t think he is good enough to make it to the next level, but for Khama, he is good enough to play in the Belgian top five teams.”