Middendorp explains why Billiat hasn't been seen in Chiefs' lineup for 6 weeks
Ernst Middendorp has said that Kaizer Chiefs playmaker Khama Billiat was handed to the club’s medical staff in late December‚ with the message not to give him back to the first team until he was capable of “100 percent peak performance”.
Billiat‚ out of action for Absa Premiership leaders Chiefs since being replaced in the 80th minute of their 1-1 draw away to Maritzburg United on December 22‚ returned to full training last week.
Chiefs have not disclosed any actual injury to the player‚ with the diagnosis passed on by Middendorp from the medical staff just before the Christmas break that Billiat had simply played too many matches and was to be given a three-week break.
This was to avoid a repetition of continual niggling injuries affecting the playmaker‚ who played in the Cosafa Cup and Africa Cup of Nations for Zimbabwe in the 2019-20 off-season‚ as Middendorp complained of continued call-ups for a player he said was jaded.
Middendorp was asked to explain why Billiat – one of the stars of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations group stages in Egypt in June – has been out for close to six weeks rather than three.
“I can make it simple and easy‚” Chiefs’ coach responded.
“After December 22 we had seen he couldn’t sprint to 100 percent.
“We have this PlayerTek Catapult GPS data which tells you exactly the top speed. Khama’s was normally close to 10 – 9.9 or 9.8. And you could see in a game‚ or in training sessions‚ a maximum 9.2 or 9.1.
“At the time‚ December 22‚ we just decided‚ because we had our experience before of taking him out for two weeks‚ and then bringing him back‚ that‚ ‘OK‚ it’s done now’.
“It doesn’t matter even if it takes six or seven weeks – I wanted him capable of 100 percent speed‚ and wanted to see it on the GPS data. And that is what we see in the moment.
“We gave him more or less to the medical department. And from them‚ about eight days ago it was recommended that now he is able to do so [maximum performance].
“But from December 22 until the end of January he was not working with the team at all.
“And now he’s in. It’s important after a long time for him to get related to competitive soccer.
“He definitely needs competition time to get into it. Let’s see what we are doing.”
Billiat will be in Chiefs’ match-day squad for their Nedbank Cup last-32 matchup against KwaZulu-Natal GladAfrica Championship outfit Royal Eagles at FNB Stadium on Saturday (kickoff 6pm).
After such a long absence‚ he is unlikely to start‚ but a cup game against first division campaigners would seem an ideal time for a reintroduction to competitive football from the bench.