It wasn’t quite as good as Diego Maradona’s ‘Goal of the Century’ in the Mexican sunshine at the ‘86 World Cup but Khama Billiat scored a gem of a goal, on Saturday night, plucked from the factory that produced the Argentine superstar’s wonder strike
Maradona’s sensational second goal against England, in a quarter-final showdown of the World Cup on June 22 1986, before 114 580 fans at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, was voted the ‘Goal of the Century’ in a poll organised by FIFA in 2002.
It arrived just four minutes after Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal, which thrust Argentina into the lead in a titanic contest, and its purity has since overshadowed the controversy related to that first goal which should have been disallowed for handball.
Maradona received a pass from fellow midfielder Hector Enrique inside his half and then embarked on a 10-second dance, at pace, covering more than half the length of the pitch, beating four English players — Peter Beardsley, Peter Reid, Terry Butcher (twice) and Terry Fenwick — with extraordinary close control and artistry.
Then, as he burst into the penalty area from an angle, goalkeeper Peter Shilton, came out to narrow his angle but he was left on his backside by Maradona who powered past him and then slotted the ball into the net.
The legend of the goal has been immortalised by the voice of Uruguay commentator, Victor Huge Morales, who captured the moment in his Spanish commentary that afternoon.
“He’s going to pass it to Diego, there’s Maradona with it, two men on him, Maradona steps on the ball, there he goes down the right flank, the genius of world football, he leaves the wing and he’s going to pass it to Burruchaga,” thunders Morales.
“Always Maradona! Genius! Genius! Genius! There, there, there, there! Goaaaaaaaal! Goaaaaaaal! I want to cry, oh Holy God, long live football! What a goal! Die-goal! Maradona! It’s to cry, excuse me!
“Maradona, in a memorable run, in the best play of all times! Little cosmic comet, which planet did you come from, to leave so many Englishmen behind, so that the country becomes a clenched fist crying for Argentina? Argentina 2, England 0!
“Die-goal, Die-goal, Diego Armando Maradona! Thank you, God, for football, for Maradona, for these tears, for this Argentina 2, England 0.”
Michael Owen also scored a gem of a goal at the 1998 World Cup finals for England, against Argentina, when he weaved his way past the opposition defence and then finished with aplomb with the goal being voted, in the same FIFA poll, as the second best goal of all-time.
In Algeria on Saturday night, high-flying Zimbabwe international forward, Billiat, produced a goal that will not be out of place in the company of those super strikes to help Mamelodi Sundowns beat 2014 African champions ES Setif 2-0 in their backyard in a CAF Champions League tie.
Just after the hour mark Billiat, who had been targeted by the Algerians, who gave him an ultra-physical treatment with some crunching tackles, picked a pass from South African midfielder Keagan Dolly.
With the Zimbabwean forward closer to the centre-line and having drifted wide on the left, there appeared to be very little danger for the hosts as Billiat started his move.
A clever flick with his left foot, having fooled his marker as if he was about to run into that left channel, eliminated the first obstacle and created pockets of space wide on that flank as Billiat began his charge.
The good money, though, still remained on the Zimbabwean running into a cul-de-sac down that channel, given the number of ES Setif defenders, but Billiat’s brilliance eliminated another defender and, another twist of his little frame, fooled the third defender, with the Warriors’ forward never breaking his stride.
Then, in a flash, he was clear on goal and the finish, at the near post, was sublime, as good a goal as will ever be seen in the CAF Champions League.
That wonder goal underlined Billiat’s status as probably the finest footballer who is plying his trade in Africa today.
“Billiat beat his first defender with a clever flick inside before dribbling past another in the box and finishing at the near post on his left foot — a mesmerising dribble,” the Mamelodi Sundowns’ official website acknowledged yesterday.
It was Sundowns’ first away victory over a North African club in the CAF inter-club competitions in more than two decades, the Brazilians’ first victory in nine away matches in that part of the continent.
Mamelodi Sundowns’ magnificent victory in Algeria on Saturday night in the African Champions League was the first for the club in North Africa in more than two decades of competing in CAF competitions.
In eight previous visits to North Africa, the Brazilians had lost six times and drawn twice.
The match on Saturday, though, ended amid chaotic scenes inside the stadium when ES Setif fans threw missiles onto the pitch, deep into added time, as they struggled to contain the pain of the defeat.