THE abrupt retirement from international football by star player Khama Billiat could not have come at a worse time for the Warriors, yet in the same breath one club could benefit from the latest development, a football legend has said.
Billiat announced his last dance with the Warriors on Monday, a move that shocked all and sundry in local football.
But a Warriors legend sees Billiat’s retirement as a case of one man’s loss being another man’s gain.
Innocent Chikoya — a left back who made his name at Orlando Pirates from Manning Rangers in the late 90s — believes the timing couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Warriors.
“I think Chiefs (Kaizer) benefited. To be honest, he was supposed to just continue until after the Afcon (Africa Cup of Nations), which is in January. Those are the only games left because there’s no international football until then and it is such a big tournament,” said the ex-Orlando Pirates and Warriors left back.
The Afcon finals are set for Cameroon early next year.
Zimbabwe have been drawn in Group B alongside Senegal, Malawi and Guinea.
“Everybody cherishes playing in the Afcon finals, but Khama decides to quit. Perhaps it’s the burden of playing for a big brand like Chiefs and then still having to travel to represent his national team. But there is no one in the local game from Zimbabwe who can give what Khama is giving the national team,” he said.
For Chikoya, the biggest beneficiaries of Khama’s decision are his club Kaizer Chiefs.
“A lot of the times he’s been injured and missing a lot of games at Chiefs, people are noticing and complaining because the club is paying a lot of money.
“Maybe he’s trying to revive his career and trying to be the Khama that people know. His performance has not been what we are used to for a number of years, it’s only now that he is — being at his best and concentrating on club football.
“It could also be about securing his future with Chiefs, as we know he signed a two-year contract recently (in July),” added Chikoya.
Chikoya became a key player at Pirates — playing an important role in helping the club win the BP Top Eight Cup and PSL title under Gordon Igesund.
He left the Soweto giants in July 2003 after winning the 2002/ 03 league title.