By Paul Mundandi
Khama Billiat has opened up on the Glo African Footballer with the Mamelodi Sundowns kingpin expressing his confidence of winning the accolade for the best player on the continent.
The Confederation of African Football will tomorrow stage their annual awards ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria and Zimbabweans’ eyes will be on Billiat as he battles for the coveted crown against his Brazilians teammate and Ugandan goalkeeper Denis Onyango and Zambian skipper Rainford Kalaba who plays for Congolese giants TP Mazembe.
Billiat and Onyango have an edge over Kalaba in that they not only helped Mamelodi Sundowns win the Champions League title but they also inspired their respective countries for qualification to the African Cup of Nations in Gabon.
Kalaba fronted the TP Mazembe attack as they won the Confederation Cup but could not meet with much success with the national team as former champions Zambia failed to qualify for the Nations Cup.
In fact Billiat and Onyango have had to be excused from the Warriors and the Cranes’ training camps in Harare and Tunis to attend the function in Nigeria a tomorrow.
Away from the madness of the social media, Billiat was yesterday upbeat about his chances of etching his name in Zimbabwean history by winning the African Footballer of the Year award.
The 26-year-old forward however, said he was also ready for any outcome should the selection panel opt to crown either Onyango or Kalaba.
Billiat speaking just a few hours before he left Harare for Nigeria reckoned that making the final three was in itself an achievement.
“It feels pretty good to have been nominated for the award. I thank the Almighty God for putting me at a place where I have never been before. It will be good news for the country if I win the award. If I fail to win the award I will not have hard feelings because for me to be nominated it was God’s kindness. I will be happy with any outcome because it will be God’s decision.
“It was God who put me in that place so there will be no reason for me to be hurt, no reason for me to have hard feelings because everything happens for a reason and I believe that it is always the Almighty God who is always in control so we must learn to accept everything that comes our way,” said Billiat.
Billiat took part in the Warriors morning training at Gateway High School before leaving later in the afternoon.
It also emerged that the entire Mamelodi Sundowns team is expected to be in Abuja for the awards to not only offer their support to Billiat and Onyango but the club chiefs are hoping for a treble of awards if gaffer Pitso Mosimane wins the Coach of the Year gong while the side claims the Team of the Year title.
Having already won the South African Footballer of the Season, Players Player of the Season and the Kick Off Footballer of the Season awards ahead of Onyango, it would be a huge surprise if the Sundowns goalkeeper were to claim the Best African player title.
Zimbabwe’s Mighty Warriors have also been shortlisted for the Women team of the Year following their double qualification for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in August as well as the Women African Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
The winners of tomorrow night’s awards will be decided by votes from the Caf Technical & Development, Media Committees and a panel of 20 experts (Journalists, TV consultants) except Fair Play, Legend and Platinum awards, which are not subject to vote.
For this year, there will be no votes for the Youth National Team of the Year.
Meanwhile, the Referee of the Year will be voted only by the Caf Referees Committee.
Women’s Player of the Year
Asisat OSHOALA (Nigeria & Arsenal Ladies)
Elizabeth Addo (Ghana & Kvarnsvedensik)
Gabrielle ABOUDI ONGUENE (Cameroon & Rossiyanka)
Janine VAN WYK (South Africa & JVW)
Raissa FEUDJIO TCHUANYO (Cameroon & Aland United)
Talent Elia MESCHAK (DR Congo & TP Mazembe)
Kelechi IHEANACHO (Nigeria & Manchester City)
Naby KEITA (Guinea & RB Leipzig)
Oghenekaro ETEBO (Nigeria & CD Feirense)
Ramadan SOBHI (Egypt & Stoke City)
Youth Player of the Year Alex IWOBI (Nigeria & Arsenal)
Eric AYIAH (Ghana U-17)
Franck KESSIE(Cote d’Ivoire & Atalanta)
Sandra OWUSU-ANSAH (Ghana & Supreme Ladies)
Sidiki MAIGA (Mali U-20)
Coach of the Year Florent IBENGE (DR Congo)
Milutin – Micho’ SREDOJEVIC (Uganda)
Pitso MOSIMANE (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Nacer SANDJAK (MO Bejaia)
Florence OMAGBEMI (Nigeria women’s national team)
Referee of the Year
Gambia Grishea Gehead,
Egypt Malang Diedhiou,
Club of the Year
Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)
MO Bejaia (Algeria)
TP Mazembe (DR Congo)
Zesco United (Zambia)
National Team of the Year
Women’s National Team of the Year
Zimbabwe. The Chronicle