Khama Billiat struggles to return to league-leading form

Says he’s working more on distributing to his teammates

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 01: Khama Billiat of Sundowns during the Absa Premiership match between Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns at FNB Stadium on April 01, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)
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Khama Billiat said in a recent interview that he’s spent much of this season “searching for himself” in an attempt to explain his off-peak performance so far in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League. He is still the leading scorer for Mamelodi Sundowns this year, tied with teammate Percy Tau with nine goals so far. Billiat is also still a candidate for the Player of the Season award, which he won in the 2015-16 campaign, although he’s not an automatic winner as he was once considered by PSL audiences. For example, he was invisible in yesterday’s 1-0 win against SuperSport United; the lone Sundowns goal came on a Hlompho Kekana header of a well-placed air pass from Teko Modise

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However, Sundowns fans have noticed he’s changed his playing style. Billiat credits this to the requests of his coach, Pitso Mosimane, who has urged the Zimbabwean star to chase less goals into the box and focus more on distributing the ball around the box. Indeed, this season marks a career high for assists, with 13 already (Tau is second place on the team with eight). Billiat recognizes that he’s not as flashy as he once was playing this new role, and when asked by a reporter where the Player of the Year version of Billiat was, he responded, “I also want to see him. I’ve been looking for him.”

That being said, he is attempting to keep optimism during this recent funk. “I just need to work a bit harder, like my coach has been saying… Even in previous seasons there were times where it looked like I would leave the team, and I didn’t and I still kept on going.” In yesterday’s game against SuperSport, while he was not an on-field presence, teammates say he did a good job of keeping them focused during preparation for the match.


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