JOHANNESBURG - The man who played a supporting role in courting Khama Billiat is happy that Kaizer Chiefs won the Zimbabwean’s heart, describing his acquisition as similar to having Cristiano Ronaldo or Neymar in your team.
Willard Katsande fetched Chiefs’ football manager, Bobby Motaung, at the airport in Harare and drove him to Billiat’s home. Amakhosi not only wooed Billiat but they also charmed his family to land his signature.
Katsande shared with his “brother” why “there is no place like Chiefs” and how the Soweto giants have treated him well in the eight seasons he has spent there.
“We know what kind of a player Khama is. When he came to the village (in Naturena), he changed the whole dimension of the players around him,” Katsande said.
“Everybody wants to play with him and everybody is eager to add onto what he is doing.
“He is a massive, massive addition to the team. When he is in the game, the game is totally different.
“It’s like having Neymar or Ronaldo in your team. He is going to give the guys around him confidence to perform well.”
Amakhosi fans saw Billiat in a Chiefs shirt for the first time in Orkney in the Bokone Bophirima Maize Cup on Saturday.
Billiat combined well with Leonardo Castro in the reunion of the once-destructive CBD that also featured Keagan Dolly, who is in France now.
Billiat’s name received the loudest cheers from Amakhosi fans who believe that his presence will be vital in the Glamour Boys shaking off their barren run.
“It’s not a good thing that the team has gone this long without a trophy because we are here to make history in the right way. We aren’t here to make history in a negative way,” Katsande said.
“We have that at the back of our minds that we haven’t won a trophy in the last three seasons. We have sat down as players and spoke about it.
“We are in pain but what we can do is lick our wounds, start afresh in the new season and try to win the first trophy which is the MTN8.”
Kaizer Chiefs won the Maize Cup final 6-5, beating Free State Stars. pic.twitter.com/3Bh7SlfwQo
Chiefs will start the season in a titanic league duel against Mamelodi Sundowns on August 4. There will be a dress-rehearsal of that match on Saturday at FNB Stadium in the Shell Helix Ultra Cup.
Chiefs’ new coach Giovanni Solinas could be on the bench for the first time in that clash against the Brazilians as he is awaiting his work permit to start his tenure at Amakhosi.
He watched from the stands as Chiefs beat Buya Msuthu and Free State Stars in the Maize Cup before going onto the pitch to celebrate with them winning this pre-season tournament.
His announcement as Chiefs’ coach was met with mixed feelings. Those who agree with the decision pointed to the attractive football Stars played under him.
Those who are against it highlighted his lack of staying power, hopping from one club to the next without spending more than a season in one place and the lack of a serious title on his CV.
“It was a good decision to hire him,” Katsande said. “He is somebody who I’ve admired.
“I liked the way he was coaching Free State Stars. He is going to add value to our team. Everybody is eager to start to work with him and see how far we can go.
“His team always have discipline, balance and they play exciting football. We have that quality in terms of playing with the ball and knocking it around. His philosophy is good for the team, the players and the supporters.”