Zimbabwe sweating to convince Kaizer Chiefs’ Billiat to come out of retirement

19:04 EAT 01/12/2021
Khama Billiat, Zimbabwe, October 2021
The 31-year-old Amakhosi star quit his career with the Warriors at the end of the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers

Zimbabwe are trying to get Kaizer Chiefs attacker Khama Billiat to reconsider his decision to retire from international football as the Africa Cup of Nations tournament approaches.

The 31-year-old stunningly called an end to his international career earlier this month, a development that even shocked Zimbabwe caretaker coach Norman Mapeza.

Since 2011 when Billiat broke into the Warriors team, he has been a key performer.

“I still have to engage Khama Billiat and try to talk to him about the possibility of playing at the 2021 Afcon finals in Cameroon,” said Mpandare as per The Herald.

“Obviously we knew that one day he would retire from international football but we all thought that the time would come after the Afcon tournament. Even Knowledge [Musona] has said he will play his last Afcon in Cameroon. So we are hoping to have a good engagement.”

If he reverses his decision, Billiat’s availability for Afcon would have come at a time when he has picked up form at Kaizer Chiefs.

He has previously featured in two Afcon finals with Zimbabwe and scored a goal against Uganda at the last edition in 2017.

Zimbabwe will be participating in their fifth Afcon tournament and currently, they do not have a permanent coach as former Chippa United tactician Mapeza is working on an interim basis.

Besides Billiat’s possible absence from Afcon, Zimbabwean football is in shambles after the Zifa board was recently suspended by the government for alleged maladministration.

That is seen as having the potential to disturb preparations for the biennial tournament to be hosted by Cameroon in January and February 2022.

“We are continuing to do the groundwork for Afcon and with what is happening, we just have to do our bit while we wait for directives from the authorities,” Mpandare said.

“But according to our plans, we would have wanted to begin camp on December 15. Right now the tricky part is that we do not have a coach and this makes the planning a bit difficult.

“There are things that we should have been discussing with the coach. For now, I can only do little because I have limitations to my roles as the team manager.”

In all the previous Afcon tournaments the Warriors have been at, they have never proceeded past the group stage.