Kaizer Chiefs welcomed Khama Billiat from a long absence yesterday in their narrow 1-0 win over Royal Eagles to progress to the last 16 of the Nedbank Cup, and the Zimbabwean returned after nearly a month on the sidelines.
With Amakhosi still leading the Absa Premiership table with nine points and going into the final stretch – faced with some decisive matches – Billiat will be important, coach Ernst Middendorp told reporters.
“We are definitely very pleased to have Khama back. It was always our intention when we took him out on December 22 for a long time and he comes back on February 8,” the coach said following Billiat’s second half appearance.
“As you have seen, he is quick, he is fast, he has a good touch, he is sprinting 100 percent – but on the other side, after being out for such a long time we should make sure he doesn’t overstretch it. There will be 45 minutes and 60 minutes there with the combinations because we have a lot of different games.”
During his absence, Samir Nurkovic, Leonardo Castro, Lebogang Manyama and Dumisani Zuma led the line, Chiefs losing only one of the five league matches Billiat missed.
“In those games we played with all three, plus Manyama and George (Maluleka). We don’t want to limit ourselves, but we can have this only when everyone is on their best. So far what I have seen (with Billiat) I am happy with, it’s good,” said Middendorp.