PRETORIA – Mamelodi Sundowns have responded angrily to claims by Zifa they are refusing to release Khama Billiat.
Billiat was accompanied to Harare on Wednesday by Zimbabwean legend Peter Ndlovu, who now works as team manager at Sundowns.
After arriving in Zimbabwe, the Warriors medical team conducted their own assessments and concluded that Billiat was not fit to play.
However, there had been scandalous claims by Warriors team manager Wellington Mpandare that Ndlovu is responsible for blocking Billiat from reporting for the 2019 African Nations Cup qualifier against Liberia on Sunday.
Billiat last played competitive football on May 17, lasting just over an hour in an Absa Premiership clash against Maritzburg United, subsequently ruling him out of the Brazilians’ last three games, two of which came in the African Champions League.
“Firstly, I have to make it known that this Wellington [Mpandare] character is just getting too excited. Is he new in the job?” says Thulani Thuswa, the Sundowns spokesman.
“In the past, we have always worked well with Zifa and have respect for both their president (Philip Chiyangwa) and coach (Norman Mapeza). We have always enjoyed good relations with Zifa because we have always had Zimbabwean players at the club and that shouldn’t be spoilt by this Wellington guy,” says a livid Thuswa.
Through all this fracas, Chiyangwa had threatened to report Sundowns to Fifa, with world football’s governing body compelling clubs to release players for Fifa calendar matches.
“The truth is that we sent them (Zifa) the doctor’s report and told them that if they want another opinion on Khama’s injury then they can always send him to an independent doctor here in Johannesburg,” Thuswa says.
“That way they would have been able to verify our doctor’s report which they might have issues with. We have a qualified team doctor and it is not for fun that Khama hasn’t played in the last three games for the club.
The Sundowns spokesman adds that there have been no problems with their injured Liberian star Anthony Laffor and his national team.
Laffor, who usually captains Liberia, will miss the match against his club team-mate Billiat.
The Brazilians play Esperance away on June 21 in a crucial Caf Champions League match and will have another two Group C matches to play against Ethiopians Saint George on July 1 and AS Vita on July 7. – Kick Off