Drama as Yadah FC snatches Khama Billiat from Manica Diamonds in transfer battle


AMBITIOUS Premier Soccer League outfit Yadah will not put pressure on former Zimbabwe international, Khama Billiat to immediately fulfil matches when the 2024 season gets underway next week amid doubts over his fitness.

He is expected to be unveiled in the capital today.

The 33-year-old poster-boy is joining them as a free agent after refusing to renew his contract at South African heavyweights, Kaizer Chiefs where he had played between the 2018/19 and 2022/23 seasons amid claims he was being offered a severely downgraded package.

Kaizer Chiefs’ position was attributed to concerns over Billiat’s fitness levels and age.

“Khama Billiat will only play for Yadah when certified fit to do so, he is not going to be rushed to play as there is no such pressure from the club’s stakeholders. Remember, last year Yadah became the first team to sign Brazilians when they brought three of them but only one played and scored while the rest failed but it was never a big deal,” revealed a source close to the two camps yesterday.

Yadah are taking Billiat on a one-year contract, after snatching him from under the noses of Manica Diamonds who had almost gotten him to sign a deal that would have made him the best paid footballer on the local scene.

While Yadah’s package that eventually won is not yet known, Zimpapers Sports understands that Manica Diamonds had put together a package that included US$20 000 sign-on fee in full, US$3 500 monthly salary and a winning bonus of US$500 while there was nothing for a draw.

At first, Dynamos had seemed Billiat’s destination but his camp says there was a problem with the sign-on fee as the Harare giants, while committed to the US$20 000 fee, offered US$10 000 now and then the remainder in June.

Billiat’s camp wanted it all at once and that is when Manica Diamonds moved in and had seemingly reached an agreement last week on Thursday.
Zimpapers Sports understands a contract was even sent to Billiat while he was still in South Africa but he was then advised to wait a bit, a development which allowed Yadah FC to make inroads using the influence of their partner, businessman and Mabvuku-Tafara member of parliament, Pedzai “Scott” Sakupwanya.

They then came up with a better package than Manica Diamonds resulting in his travel to Harare on Tuesday night where there were dramatic scenes at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.

In his last season at Kaizer Chiefs, Billiat played just 10 league matches due to injuries. He was in the squad 10 times, started eight and came in as a substitute twice while missing 15 matches (half of the Premiership season) through injury and not making the squad for five matches.
Billiat’s last competitive match was as a 44th minute substitute for Kaizer Chiefs in their final league match of the season at home to Cape Town City as he replaced injured Ashley Du Preez.

At his peak, Billiat played all 30 Premiership games for Ajax Cape Town in the 2012/13 season, which remains the only such time in his career that he was an ever-present.

Ajax Cape Town can boast of being the team that got the most out of Billiat as he played 83 of their 90 Premiership matches in the three seasons he was there at an average of 27.33 matches a season.

He then moved to Mamelodi Sundowns where he played 99 games in five seasons at an average of 19.8 matches per season and best of 26 in the 2015/16 season in which they also won the Caf Champions League.

It was his most prolific season in front of goal as he scored a career-best 12 league goals and 14 assists, which remains the ONLY time he reached double figures for goals and second time for assists, after the 12 at Ajax Cape Town in the 2012/13 season, in his professional career.

His final stop in South Africa was at Kaizer Chiefs where he played 97 Premiership matches in five seasons at an average of 19.4 per season and best of 27 in the 2021/22 season.

In all, Billiat played 279 league matches in 13 seasons, scoring 83 goals and assisting 24 times while adding 54 domestic cup matches and 29 international club matches scoring 40 and assisting 24 times while with the three South African clubs.

Meanwhile, Yadah officials yesterday explained why sending Billiat to Dynamos on loan was never on the table as they snatched him from Manica Diamonds.

Yadah chairman, Everson Chatambudza said speculation that they would send Billiat to Dynamos was wrong.

“We do not have any plans to send him on loan and it doesn’t actually make sense that we win a battle to sign him and then send him elsewhere. We do not have any arrangements with Dynamos on Khama,” said Chatambudza.

Yadah chief executive, Admire Mango said loaning Billiat to a local club would only have been possible had he been signed on a long-term contract.

“It does not make sense to pay so much money on a player whose long-term future is subject to fitness and then loan him to Dynamos or any other local team without recovering the money. If you look at all those players who are sent out on loan after signing contracts, the key is the duration of the deal.

“It happens with players that would have signed four to even six-year contracts whereby the club believes in the talent but would rather allow the player to improve in certain aspects of his game while active elsewhere.

“But that falls away when you have a one-year contract. It’s either we have use for him or we don’t sign him at all and we signed him because we intend to use him.

“He will play at Yadah and that is why he will be unveiled tomorrow; we couldn’t do it tonight (yesterday) because it is a holiday. Otherwise Yadah cannot unveil him at a function, give him a Yadah kit and then sending him out on loan.” Chronicle.

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