Kaizer Chiefs head coach Stuart Baxter has given a ringing endorsement of Khama Billiat ahead of the new season, saying the Zimbawean attacker looks (probably) an even better player than he expected.
Billiat has had his struggles at Amakhosi, battling with form and injury, and never quite looking the player who starred in the shirt of Mamelodi Sundowns.
As Chiefs prepare to face Sundowns in Sunday’s MTN8 quarterfinal, however, Baxter was effusive in his praise of the 30 year-old forward.
“Khama has been doing excellently in training, he is looking sharp, enthusiastic, he is probably a better all-round player than I thought,” said Baxter
“Whether that means he will start (against Sundowns) or will be a very interesting guy to bring from the bench, the next few days will tell me. I will go through all the stats with the sports scientists on how his endurance is, how his relative strength is, and make a proper call.
“But Khama is looking like he is enjoying the work he is doing and is showing his quality.”
Baxter, meanwhile, says he sees similar qualities in the current Chiefs squad to that he inherited in 2012, when he managed to lead Amakhosi to the league and cup double, despite a 4-1 MTN8 quarterfinal defeat to Sundowns in his opening match as Chiefs head coach.
“I see certain similarities, there had been a few years prior to me arriving that Chiefs had been unsuccessful,” added Baxter.
“So the hunger was there, the hunger (here) is clear, as you can well imagine.”
Chiefs have not won a single Premier Soccer League trophy since Baxter left in 2015.
“As pride was dented then, it is now, because Chiefs is supposed to be about winning things.”