Billiat thanks Chiefs boss

KHAMA Billiat who played a starring role in Kaizer Chiefs’ 1-0 win against Primeiro de Agosto on Tuesday to put the Soweto club through to their first-ever Caf Champions League group stages‚ says Amakhosi need to test themselves against the competition’s giants.

Chiefs became the first South African club to beat Primeiro in Angola with their 1-0 first round‚ second-leg win at Estadio 11 de Novembro after a 0-0 draw at FNB Stadium on December 22.

Billiat was on form on the afternoon and produced the excellent run out of defence down the left and cross to set up Leonardo Castro’s 41st-minute winner.

The Zimbabwean‚ along with Castro, a Champions League winner at Mamelodi Sundowns in 2016‚ thanked Chiefs’ management for putting on the charter flight to Luanda.

Angola has shut its borders to South Africans due to rising COVID-19 numbers in this country‚ but made special dispensation for Amakhosi.

“It’s a great feeling. I think credit goes to the technical team‚ and the entire team for their preparation‚ and us coming here with the charter flight – we really appreciated it‚” Billiat said.

“And the whole effort that the chairman [Kaizer Motaung] is putting into the guys‚ and everyone.

“It’s really important for us as well to go and test ourselves with the rest of the Champions League giants.

“It gives us confidence as well going back to our domestic competitions‚ and we really want to go all the way.

“We want to make a difference‚ and push ourselves to the limit and see how far we can progress in Africa.

“It’s really important and we give credit to the guys.

“We worked so hard‚ we stuck to the plan‚ and it wasn’t easy. It’s going to be very tough but we can only learn and grow as a team‚ and make sure we gel together and fight for one another.”

Chiefs and their new coach Gavin Hunt — plagued by a two-window Fifa transfer ban — have had a shocker of a start in the DStv Premiership‚ with one win in eight matches.

A club with a reputation for not having taken continental football seriously‚ often balking at the cost‚ have shown intent to progress in the 2020-21 Champions League‚ beating Cameroon’s PWD Bamenda (also 1-0) in the preliminary round.

As Hunt throws in youngsters to build for the future — Njabulo Blom and Darrel Matsheke played beyond their years in Chiefs’ central midfield in Luanda — the Champions League group phase may well provide the best possible finishing school for such prospects.

Chiefs were missing influential Lebohang Manyama‚ Willard Katsande and Itumeleng Khune on Tuesday.

“Ja‚ it shows the quality that we have. Everyone is important. We really need to step up when they’re [senior players] not around‚ we really need to do what they were going to do‚” Billiat said.

“And we speak to them on the phone‚ they motivate us in the group‚ they’re part of the team and we are together.

“It really means a lot. They give us confidence and calm us down just sending their motivational texts on the (WhatsApp) group.

“And we really know we need to fight for them‚ because we know that if they had been here they would do the same.”

Chiefs join Sundowns‚ Pitso Mosimane’s 2019-20 champions Al Ahly‚ finalists Zamalek and Senegal’s Teungueth as teams to have qualified so far for the group stage.                                        — Soweatan

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