Warriors captain Knowledge Musona has backed his counterpart Khama Billiat to explode again amid a raging storm in South Africa about his form which has seen him struggle to reach the heights he touched at Mameodi Sundowns.
Billiat is the highest paid footballer in the South African Premiership after running down his contract at Sundowns and leaving, for free, to negotiate his terms at Kaizer Chiefs.
But the Warriors forward has struggled to provide the spark for the Amakhosi and, during the Soweto Derby last Saturday, SuperSport commentators, Mark Gleeson and William Shongwe, questioned the value Billiat had imposed on the 116th duel between Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
Twitter was also brutal in its assessment of Billiat.
Sections of the South African media also sharply criticised Billiat’s show with one national newspaper giving him a lowly four out of 10 mark, the lowest among all players who featured in the Derby.
Last week, Chiefs defender Daniel Cardoso said former coach Giovanni Solinas, who was fired by the Amakhosi, was to blame for Billiat’s challenges because he gave him special treatment.
“If you remember in every game there were six or seven changes in the line-up, and you can’t get consistency like that,’’ Cardoso told The Citizen newspaper.
“As a player you grow in confidence when you play . . . (under Solinas) you’d play two games and do well but then in the next three you are out and wondering what you did wrong. And then he would tell you he is resting you and protecting you.
“I don’t think he had much of a plan. We’d be on the training grounds for three hours running against mannequins — there was no structure.
“The (club’s) badge should be a motivation but when a coach changes players like that it gets hard. He used Khama and Castro in every game but what was that saying to the other players?
“Apparently Khama was the Messi’ of South Africa for Solinas. And I think that got to him (Khama) as well and he thought he was the greatest . . . Look Khama is a great striker, don’t get me wrong, but you can see we went through a dip in form and he is now trying to recover. I think it was a case of giving too much confidence to one player and nothing to others.
“You can’t put it all on one player’s shoulders, it’s a team. We are not playing tennis or chess, it’s a team sport unfortunately. For us we couldn’t question him, he was the head coach. But bowing down to a player in front of the crowds and other players, it gives him more pressure because he knows he has to perform in every game and it’s not every day that you can perform something, it can’t happen.’’
However, The Herald came to the defence of the Warriors forward.
“Admittedly, Khama has not exploded the way many expected he would when he arrived at the Amakhosi seven months ago,’’ this newspaper’s Senior Sports Editor, Robson Sharuko, wrote in his weekly blog on Saturday.
“His touch has betrayed and deserted him, his confidence appears drained and his sparkle appears to have faded.
“But, the worst we can do is to suggest he is finished, to spread the narrative his best days are behind him, to even contemplate we are seeing the beginning of the end of Khamaldinho.
“To swallow the propaganda that his recent struggles are just the first signs of a downhill slide into oblivion, the first signs of the inevitable plunge from greatness back to the ordinary world of us mere mortals.
“I resist that flawed argument because I have heard it before, from heavyweight television and newspaper pundits, and — as it turned out — all of it was just trash talk with their attempts to write the epitaph on the tombstones of the careers of many footballers turning out to be premature.
“Yes, Khama can do better, no doubt about that, and can play far better than he is doing now.
“But I am not desperate to give up on him, to be swayed by the armchair analysts to doubt his quality because I am a firm believer that form is temporary and class is permanent.
“You just have to love this game, intoxicatingly beautiful and relentlessly brutal at the same time, and in its simplicity lies the very heart of its complexity.
“Never say never in this game, never rush to judge because it can bite back, BBC’s Alan Hansen said Manchester United would never win anything with the kids of ‘92, but we now all know what happened with those boys.’’
SEAL OF APPROVAL . . . Warriors captain Knowledge Musona uses his Twitter account to endorse the stance taken by The Herald to throw its weight behind Khama Billiat
When the article was posted on Twitter, Musona, who now plays for Belgian side Lokeren, was one of the first to respond, posting emojis in which he congratulated the tone and substance of the article.
The Warriors skipper has also faced questions about his form after he was loaned out to struggling Lokeren by Belgian giants Anderlecht.
He said people should not judge him by his recent stint with Belgian giants Anderlecht.
“I had to leave Anderlecht this winter because it’s very hard to train and not play. It’s frustrating not to be in the team. And if you do not play, you do not have confidence. I do not think I failed at Anderlecht, I did not just get my chance,’’ he told Belgian newspaper Het Laatse Nieuws.
“People cannot judge me during my stay in Anderlecht because I have never been able to show myself. I hope that this loan will allow them to come to the conclusion that I can bring something to the team.’’
Musona made only eight appearances and as a result was overshadowed by Belgian Landry Diamata and Ivan Santini of Croatia.
“The fans did not even see the real Musona. Under the previous coach, I did not get enough chances to prove myself, it’s unfair to be judged and you have not played five games in a row right from the start, because that’s the only way to build confidence and get to understand each other better with your teammates.
“The coach did not plan with me. You have to ask him, I have to accept that, it was difficult to train and not to play games and frustrating that sometimes I was not in the selection.
“If I wanted to play, I had to leave the club, so I decided that, after the season, I’ll basically go back and they’ll have to decide if I have any future at Anderlecht,” said Musona. The Herald