By Robson Sharuko
Khama Billiat has been bad, very bad, in his first season at Kaizer Chiefs where the Zimbabwe international has struggled to reproduce the fireworks he repeatedly displayed at Mamelodi Sundowns.
That is the narrative many critics, on either side of the Limpopo, have been spreading since Billiat penned a deal that makes him the highest-paid player in the South African Premiership.
By his own admission, Billiat concedes he hasn’t touched the heights, many fans expect from him, in what has been a tough initiation period into an Amakhosi team that has been having a nightmarish season which, however, could be rescued by success in the Nedbank Cup.
“We can’t call this one of the best seasons for Chiefs,” he told The Citizen newspaper of South Africa in the countdown to Kaizer Chiefs’ Nedbank Cup semi-final battle against Chippa United where his wonder strike was named Goal of the Month this week.
“I have always watched them (Chiefs) from outside and they have had better seasons. It would be great to finish with a trophy.
“You always want to contribute as much as you can regardless of issues you have no control over like injuries and such. But anytime you are given a chance, you want to give everything you have.
“I just hope that at the end of the season I will be able to look back and see my contribution as valuable. As strikers, we haven’t been scoring as much as we would have wanted.
“We are trying to work on our combinations so we can create more chances and score more goals. We try to give each other confidence and support one another to make sure everyone given a chance gets on the score-sheet.”
He is always very brutal in his assessment of his performances, someone who always feels he could have done better, even in a game in which he emerges as the man-of-the-match.
Recently, Chiefs announced they had handed a one-year contract extension to South African international forward Bernard Parker, which in itself, was a massive endorsement of his contribution to the club this season.
The 32-year-old Parker is four years older than Billiat.
But, has the Zimbabwean forward been that horrible he should be the focal point of everything that is broken about this Kaizer Chiefs side who find themselves 15 points adrift of Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates in the championship race with just two league matches to be played?
Do the statistics really provide ammunition for Billiat to be slaughtered, for having been a massive flop, during his first season at the Amakhosi or he is just being targeted because he happens to be the highest-paid player at the club and, being a foreigner, a lot is expected from him?
Facts, as they say, are usually stubborn.
For all his perceived pathetic season in this campaign, Billiat is actually the leading goal-scorer at Kaizer Chiefs where there are many other players, specifically employed to lead the search for goals, and while his nine-goal return in all competitions, so far, appears an average tally, its colour sparkles in gold once put into proper context.
For instance, Parker, having played two more games overally when compared to Billiat all season, has scored just three goals and he is the one who has modelled himself, in his career, as a goal-scorer and not in the kind of supporting role which Billiat features in during attacks.
In 24 appearances in the ABSA Premiership this season, Parker, who was recently rewarded with a one-year contract extension, has scored just two goals and provided only two assists, while in the same number of games in the league this campaign, Billiat has scored five goals and provided six assists.
Five league goals sound very much like a poor return, but it’s when you look at it in the context of a Chiefs side that has scored just 32 league goals in the league this season, and Willard Katsande, with three league goals, has the third best return of goals at the team, that you realise Billiat hasn’t been as bad as they say.
In the event we agree his goal return of five league goals, the highest tally scored by a Chiefs player this season, has been very bad, what then will we say about George Maluleka who has only scored once, Gustavo Paez, who has one goal and Hendrick Ekstein, who also has one goal?
What about Philani Zuma who has scored only two league goals all season for Chiefs and Dumisani Zuma, who also has only scored two league goals for the Amakhosi in this campaign?
Let’s leave the league and go to the MTN8 and, again, Khama leads the way with two goals while Parker, in the same number of games in the tournament this season, didn’t score even one goal.
Maybe, let’s go to the Nedbank Cup, the only tournament where Chiefs have a chance of winning silverware this season, and in three games in the tourney this season, Billiat has scored two goals and provided two assists, while Parker has, from four appearances, scored just one goal and provided one assist.
Parker didn’t score a goal in the first 13 league matches he featured for the Amakhosi this season and only broke his duck, with his first league goal for the club, in the 14th match, a 3-2 victory over Amazulu, and scored his second in the 19th game of the season, another 3-2 win over Highlands Park.
Nine league matches later, Parker is yet to score a league goal since his strike against Highlands Park, and has been rewarded with a one-year extension of his contract.
Khama is averaging a goal every 400 minutes in the league this season, but when you compare that with Parker, who is averaging a goal every 755 minutes in the league, you probably will get an appreciation that, contrary to the gospel that is being spread, the Zimbabwean isn’t having a stinker of a season.
Parker was the leading goal-scorer at Chiefs in the league last season, with only four goals in 24 appearances, and given he has scored two league goals this season, in the same of games, it means he has scored just six goals in the last 48 matches in the league for the Amakhosi.
That’s an average of a goal every eight league matches for two years and, to top it all, he has received a contract extension by the club while all the critics, it appears, are only focused on savaging Billiat even when statistics show he hasn’t been as bad as they suggest. The Herald