By Mukudzei Chingwere
KHAMA BILLIAT says Knowledge Musona brings the best out of him, when he plays for the Warriors, and can hardly wait for a reunion with the man who has been a huge part of his adventure with the senior national team.
The two have been the team’s most influential players in the past decade and, without them, the Warriors have looked ordinary as was the case when they were beaten by Somalia in a World Cup qualifier in Djibouti last Thursday.
Billiat was summoned to duty, ahead of the second leg of the World Cup qualifier, and made the difference by scoring the winner in time added on as the Warriors won the reverse fixture 3-1 to go through 3-2 on aggregate.
The official line was that Billiat was injured, ahead of the first leg, but reports have maintained that ZIFA officials came up with a list of players who were not supposed to be considered for the first leg of the match against Somalia.
The players were accused of playing a leading role, in the mutiny which kept rocking the Warriors camp at the AFCON finals in Egypt over bonuses and allowances, and ZIFA could have gambled on leaving them out expecting those called to easily beat Somalia.
However, after a shock defeat in Djibouti, which left the Warriors facing a humiliating exit from the World Cup qualifiers, ZIFA appear to have softened their hardline stance as some of the seasoned players were recalled.
Billiat said he always feels comfortable playing alongside Musona.
“It is the greatest combination I have ever had since I was young, that also help me grow as a player,” he told The Herald. Seeing him (and) stealing some ideas of football, watching him play, how he goes into the pockets and how he is calm in front goal and in the box, it has helped me a lot.
“For me, to see him doing that, it also gives me something to continue pushing harder, and doing a little bit of what he is doing to help my game.
“He is a great player who can score from any angles and it is a motivation on the field that he can do something any time. It brings less pressure on you and you can play with a lot of joy and relaxed.’’
Billiat said he will never turn down an invitation to play for his country.
“For me it has always been a pleasure, we always wanted to represent the country since we were young and getting that goal we really appreciate it,’’ he said.
“I do not know what really happens (the consistency for the Warriors) but I think the language plays a big a role, you will be able to reach out to everyone around you and we have better understanding using our own language.
“I was excited to be called for the return leg, because I was disappointed I could not make it for the first leg because of injury. I want to play as many games as I can whilst I am still able to run.
‘‘So, I was really humbled to get that last-minute call, it is my nation, I really want to do something about it and I could not think about it.
‘‘If I am called to represent the nation I would actually run. I really appreciate to receive a phone call that run to Zim, I want to thank the technical team and the players, they accepted me they were all happy it did not even show that I did not train.’’
Of late, there has been an infusion of players who grew up in Zimbabwe and those who have honed their skills abroad in the Warriors squad, players like stand-in skipper Alec Mudimu and Tendayi Darikwa, in the Warriors squad.
Billiat wants the authorities to regularise the citizenship of more of these British Brigade so that the coaches can have a bigger pool from where they can choose their players.
“African football is totally different from European football and the way it is played, so they (the British Brigade) bring in different dynamics into the team, they give a little bit of more experience and more confidence to the next player,’’ he said.
“They know the time to be at the right place, how to anticipate, (but) we also need players who are playing in Africa because we need people who are aggressive, tough and we also need people who are smart, that makes up a team.
“We need everyone who is eligible to play for the team to come, it brings more competition and makes a stronger team.’’
He said his dream was to play in the World Cup for the Warriors.
“We want to play World Cup, I know it sounds crazy but we want to do the crazy things, we want to be the first generation to take the nation to the World Cup and we do believe it can happen.
“As long as we are willing to work harder than the opposition, everything is possible, it is not about what the opponent has but the amount of effort you put,” he said. The Herald