PRETORIA – Even with a contract impasse dominating the headlines where Khama Billiat is concerned, his future being in limbo doesn’t seem to have affected his form as he scored a brace in Mamelodi Sundowns’ 3-0 victory over Platinum Stars on Saturday.
Unlike his new teammate Jeremy Brockie, who lost his scoring touch and cut an extremely frustrated figure at SuperSport United before he was eventually allowed to join Sundowns this month, Billiat has remained professional, kept his head down and delivered spectacular performances when called upon – like scoring two goals here on his return back from a knee injury.
The Zimbabwean attacker missed the previous seven Absa Premiership matches after getting hurt and leaving the Brazilians thin upfront, perhaps that being the reason why the club pressed harder during this transfer window to sign Brockie.
When it comes to his future, coach Pitso Mosimane has made it clear to the press that Billiat’s contract negotiations are complex.
The one minute it looks like he’s going to sign a new deal, and the next he is all but on his way out and letting his contract lapse at the end of the current season.
Patrice Motsepe, the club’s billionaire owner, also weighed in earlier in the week by suggesting that offering Billiat the kind of deal that he wants would have a negative effect in the dressing room.
What’s clear is that whenever he is fit, Billiat is the star of the show and has a knack for scoring decisive goals on his return from the sick bed.
Similarly to when he came off the bench against reigning champions Bidvest Wits back in November to score twice and hand Downs all three points, he was instrumental here yet again.
Sibusiso Vilakazi broke the deadlock with his own special goal in the first half, curling his attempt from outside the box to give goalkeeper Dino Visser absolutely no chance in keeping the ball out of his net.
With visitors Platinum Stars still trying to settle and feel their way into what was an important game for their continuing fight for survival in the Premier League, they gave away a free kick on the edge of the penalty area.
It’s usually Percy Tau territory, but Billiat fancied his chances and didn’t disappoint – going for placement over power to make it 2-0.
His second and Sundowns’ third of the match was also from a set-piece, but just a few yards from where he had beaten Visser moments earlier.
Tau was again close to him as a decoy, but Billiat struck again, with power this time. Visser managed to gets his fingertips on the ball, but only to push it towards the post and back into the net.
Sundowns were cruising, and Billiat was back and making a statement.
By the time he was replaced by another new arrival in Aubrey Ngoma, the 27-year-old had given the Sundowns management and coach something to ponder ahead of facing Kaizer Chiefs next Saturday.
Mosimane will and is already rebuilding in preparation for Billiat’s departure, but holding on to the Zimbabwean will only secure their dominance in the domestic league for several more seasons with the kind of quality that’s currently there.
The win also meant Sundowns maintain their lead at the top of the Premier League by four points after 18 matches, and are still favourites to run away with the title, especially following the capture of Brockie, Ngoma and Gaston Sirino, from the Bolivian league, this month.
But this was Billiat’s show.