WARRIORS forward Khama Billiat has been declared fit to play in Sunday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Congo Brazzaville.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
The Kaizer Chiefs man had been a major doubt to make the trip after he suffered a hamstring injury while playing in South Africa against SuperSport United on Saturday.
However, the medical team has allayed fears he might not play a part on Sunday.
Team doctor Somani Mudariki said Billiat’s injury was not as serious as previously thought.
He described the injury as “mild”, saying the player would be ready by Sunday.
“The injury is mild. It’s not severe. We are treating him and he will soon start light training and we will see how he will cope with the load of training. We are optimistic that he will be ready for Sunday’s match,” Mudariki said.
The technical team has already seen the withdrawal of three key players — Costa Nhamoinesu, Marvelous Nakamba and Ovidy Karuru — due to injuries and the news on Billiat’s injury had come as a major blow ahead of the crucial tie.
Zimbabwe lead Group G ahead of second-placed Democratic Republic of Congo, who have the same number of points as the Warriors, while Congo Brazzaville and Liberia are winless going into the second round of matches.
Billiat, who watched yesterday’s training session from the sidelines, said he was happy with the progress he was making, as he battles to shake off the injury ahead of the trip.
“The medical team is taking care of me. What I can say is that I am happy with the progress and I hope I will be ready to play on Sunday,” the talismanic striker said.
The Zimbabwean international, who was one of the stars at the 2017 Afcon finals in Gabon, said the experience from the last edition of the tournament was a big motivator.
He said playing at the finals was a nice experience and the Warriors were determined to qualify again.
“We experienced how nice it is to play at the finals. It was a good experience, the atmosphere and everything was great. It is a big motivator for us. We know we have to work harder to be there again,” Billiat said.
“It will not be easy playing away (against Congo). There’s lots of pressure, but we are looking forward to getting maximum points. What we have to do now is to make use of the little time we have, prepare adequately, go there and try to secure maximum points.”
Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa was confident they would bring a positive result.
The gaffer said while they were going to Congo Brazzaville with a positive attitude to try and get all three points, he would still be content with a point away from home.
“We know the expectation and we are going to try and bring a good result. A good result can be a point or three points. Congo are one the strongest sides in the African game and we have to try hard to get a positive result,” he said.
“For us to get a positive result we have to attack and defend. That is what we need to do if we want to qualify.”
Chidzambga, however, said the match against Liberia was water under the bridge.
He insisted there was difference because they were playing away.
Most of the players called into camp trained yesterday, save for striker Nyasha Mushekwi, who was expected in last night.
The Warriors will continue with their preparations in Harare between today and tomorrow ahead of their departure on Friday around lunch time.
They will arrive in Congo on Saturday ahead of the match on Sunday.