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Khama races against time

The prospect of Khama Billiat becoming the only South African Premier Soccer League player to feature in two CAF Champions League finals is hanging in the balance.

Khama Billiat
Khama Billiat

Billiat is back at training jogging, but not yet involved in full contact sessions, leaving his chances of playing in Saturday night’s mammoth clash against Egyptian kings Al Ahly hanging by a thread.

The Zimbabwean international is the only member of the Chiefs squad who has played in a CAF Champions League final before, back when Mamelodi Sundowns won the continental crown in 2016 against another Egyptian side Zamalek.

Though he didn’t score, Billiat started both games, lasting just over an hour at home before he was substituted out with five minutes left in the return leg.

In the protracted Champions League campaign that will wrap up on July 17, the 30-year-old has managed five starts, largely due to his injury struggles.

In his last appearance away at Horoya on April 10, he scored the equaliser that secured Chiefs’ passage into the quarter finals for the first time in the club’s history.

While he might not get a run in the final, he is expected to travel to Casablanca with the club taking their entire squad for the long trip, in anticipation of bagging their first ever Champions League title.

Billiat’s last competitive game was on April 25 against Sundowns, and a leg injury proceeded to force him to sit out of the last 11 games in all competitions through a season in which he also missed another 15 games prior.

Leonardo Castro, who was part of that continental campaign, missed the entire knockout phase of the competition due to an ankle injury, with this set to be his first final appearance.

Ramahlwe Mphahlele — another member of that famous Downs side — left
for Amakhosi midway through the campaign and thus didn’t feature beyond the preliminary round fixtures against AS Vita Club.

Daniel Akpeyi was also with Nigerian outfit, Heartlands’ squad when they lost in the 2009 Champions League final to TP Mazembe, but didn’t play in both legs, after having joined just a few months prior. kickoff.com

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