Johannesburg - Kaizer Chiefs' talisman Khama Billiat says the Amakhosi faithful deserves to see the team playing Caf Champions League football on a regular basis, and that’s why securing a top-two finish in non-negotiable.
Last term, Chiefs achieved the improbable as they finished as the Champions League's finalist, where they lost to Al Ahly, after qualifying for the group stage for the first time in the club’s 51-year-old existence.
That defeat to Pitso Mosimane’s Al Ahly meant that Chiefs had to wait another season before they could try and qualify to the African showpiece again, after finishing below the top-two in the league.
Things haven’t gone according to the script for Chiefs as they are yet to make ground on a top-two finish. They recently sacked coach Stuart Baxter after a string of poor results, while interim coach Arthur Zwane has lost the last two matches in charge.
However, with six matches to play before the season comes to an end, Billiat says that it’s not too late for Chiefs, who have 39 points and one game in hand, to close in on the second-placed Royal AM who have 45 points.
“We’ll keep on going, although the results haven’t been the way we wanted them to be. So that tells us, there’s more work that still needs to be done,”he said.
“We need to look at ourselves individually and analyse how we are supporting each other for the benefit of this great club. It’s not going to be easy (to get positive results from the remaining matches), but this team deserves to play Champions League football every season.
“We have to give our supporters that. They can’t go to next season knowing that we won’t be playing in the competition.”
Since their return to the stadium, Chiefs’ supporters are yet to see their money’s worth.
In the supporters' presence, Chiefs have lost three successive league matches to SuperSport United, Stellenbosch and Golden Arrows. So could it be that the team is intimidated by their presence?
“Our supporters don’t scare us. They are here to support and help us to do better. So, we must not be scared of playing in front of them. We missed each other. Maybe we just need to be mentally strong around our supporters,” Billiat said.
With the first spot of qualifying for the Champions League already occupied by Billat’s former employers and 2016 African kings Mamelodi Sundowns - they recently won the league - Chiefs can only qualify if they finish as the runners-up.
But that’s easier said than done. They can’t afford to slip up in their last six matches, beginning with the clash against Cape Town City at home on Friday.
This match was ordered by the Safa arbitration to be played after Chiefs were unable to play in December due to the outbreak of Covid-19 at the club.
However, the future of the result, whether it'll stand or not, will be decided on May 10 at the Gauteng High Court after the PSL filed for a review of the arbitrator’s award.
Nonetheless, Billiat says they’ll be playing for the three points and a win against City to break the three game losing streak.
“We cannot lose four games in a row,” Billiat said. “We are a big team, brand and have a huge number of supporters. We should know as players that this game is important and bigger than it is.”