WARRIORS coach Sunday Chidzambwa has urged Khama Billiat to seriously consider an offer from Europe over the other leagues as several clubs stampede for one of the most sought-after forwards on the African continent.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA / Fortune Mbele
There are many options for the Warriors forward, who is now in the last six months of his contractwith Mamelodi Sundowns, a situation which allows him to sign a pre-contract with a club of his choice.
The South African Footballer of the Year has reportedly declined a contract extension at the Brazilians and wants to move.
He has been linked with a number of clubs among them Azerbaijan champions Qarabag, who usually feature in the Uefa Champions League and were in the same group with English Premiership side Chelsea in this season’s edition of the competition.
The 27-year-old has scored 41 goals in 128 appearances for the Brazilians since 2013 and it has not been a surprise that a host of clubs are after him with Qarabag reported to have put in their bid.
The Zimbabwean forward is thought to be happy with it although there’s also reported interest from reigning African Champions Wydad Casablanca of Morocco and Saudi club Al Faisaly.
In South Africa Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Bidvest Wits are reported to have shown interest. However, national coach Chidzambwa believes his game can be more developed if he joins a club in Europe.
“We all know Billiat is one of our key players in the national team and I think given an option his game can be developed better if he were to join a European club. It all depends on where the player wants to go, but I think his game could be developed further in Europe than, say, in Sudan. This is not to say the game is not competitive there, but we are more exposed to the European leagues which we watch week in week out,” Chidzambwa said.
The veteran coach, appointed Warriors mentor last month with a mandate to take Zimbabwe to the 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals, said he would use the next Fifa calendar to play international friendlies as he prepares his charges for the remaining Afcon qualifiers.
The Warriors, who overcame Liberia 3-0 in the opening match in Harare under the guidance of Norman Mapeza, are in Group G, which also includes the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo Brazzaville.
The qualifiers were moved from March to October.
Only group winners and the best three runners-up qualify for the tournament, along with hosts Cameroon.
Mapeza, who has coached Billiat in the national team, yesterday said he believes the midfielder is now too big to be playing in Africa.
“I don’t think for Khama to join a local club here in Africa would be do justice to his talents. The boy has done well. I think he should go and try his luck in Europe,” Mapeza said. “If there is any team in Europe which wants him, it does not matter which league, he needs just to go there and get the experience. Going to Kaizer Chiefs or to another local African club will not help him. He should go to Europe whether it’s for three, four or five years, get the experience and bring it back home and we will be happy as a country.”
Mapeza previously criticised Warriors attackers Knowledge Musona and Ovidy Karuru when they left their Belgian bases to sign for Kaizer Chiefs.