Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has landed himself in hot water with the club following comments he made about Khama Billiat’s national team call-up yesterday.
Middendorp expressed his annoyance with the fact that the player had only just returned to the starting line-up after an injury and should have used the Fifa break to recover fully, but Billiat instead turned out for Zimbabwe in a World Cup qualifier.
The coach questioned how a player who could barely finish the full 90 minutes in the club’s two Absa Premiership matches was now able to be the hero for his national team, suggesting that Billiat had made the decision to play for his country himself.
Speaking at the launch of the Shell Helix Ultra Cup on Friday morning, Bobby Motaung – the Amakhosi football manager – insisted Middendorp’s remarks were reckless.
It must be noted, however, that Billiat had initially been left out of the first leg of the Warriors’ clash away to Somalia, but made a surprise comeback for the return match despite a Chiefs statement that the player had suffered an injury on the “pelvic area” in a league game away to Cape Town City on August 27.
“I wasn’t there yesterday unfortunately, but the coach knows the rules of the club and international call-ups. I don’t know why he raised that issue. Even if a player is injured he has got to report to camp,” Motaung said.
“If the doctors in camp also do their assessments, based on our reports, they then make the call. But there is no debate about national team call-ups. The club has no right to refuse the players going into camp. I think it was uncalled for that the coach made that statement and we will deal with the matter internally.”
In another statement issued shortly after Middendorp’s remarks yesterday, the club – on its website – quoted Billiat thanking them for releasing him to play for his country and helping him in his recovery to full fitness.
Billiat scored in the Warriors’ 3-1 win over Somalia to progress to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers after reversing a 1-0 defeat from the first leg.