High-flying Zimbabwe international Khama Billiat has bagged yet another award after being recently named the 2015-16 South African Premiership season Goal.com Player of the Season and underlined his status as the best footballer plying his trade in the ABSA top-flight this year.
Billiat has been on top of his game in a memorable season in which he led coach Pitso Mosimane’s Brazilians to the championship title.
The 25-year-old attacking midfielder becomes the first ever foreign player to have won the gong, which is voted for by Goal staff, legendary PSL players, coaches and current stars.
Goal website editor Ignat Manjoo saluted Billiat and said the Zimbabwean deserved the honour.
“Khama is the deserved winner of this season’s award. In previous years, the award was selected for by our readers in a secret poll.
“Most fans wanted this changed such that Goal selects the winner.
“It must be said that interestingly enough, would’ve selected the same winners in the past . . .
“This time Zimbabwe international Billiat was also impressive in qualifying his nation for the 2017 African Cup of Nations, an achievement that was taken into consideration.
“Of course we mentioned that all performances in the South African domestic competitions not just the league will be considered,” Manjoo said.
Manjoo said the selectors considered Billiat’s massive input into the Mamelodi Sundowns’ attacking force, which is affectionately known as the CBD (which means Castro, Billiat and Dolly).
The website acknowledged that this attacking force was the reason behind Sundowns’ march to the ABSA Premiership title.
Billiat could not hide his joy at being honoured for his exploits once again.
“It feels great, when you look and see players like Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo also honoured by the same website, then you think twice . . . what exactly am I doing to deserve this”?
The talented former Aces Youth Academy and CAPS United player underlined his significance to the Sundowns’ cause when he turned on another inspirational show to lead the Brazilians to a 2-1 triumph over Egyptian giants Zamalek in a Champions League assignment in Cairo on Sunday night.
Billiat capped a five star show with a top drawer goal that had even the SuperSport television commentators drooling over it.
“Even CR7 (Ronaldo) would have been proud of the deadly finish,’’ the commentator said of Billiat’s 67th minute winner for Sundowns.
The Mufakose-born attacking midfielder has had the best season of his stay in South Africa since he moved south of the Limpopo when he joined Ajax Cape Town six years ago.
To cap his magical performances on the field where he helped the Brazilians to the top-flight title and the Telkom Knock-out triumph, Khama scooped virtually all the individual awards on offer in South Africa.
Apart from taking home the much coveted PSL Footballer of Season Award, Billiat also walked away with the ABSA Premiership’s Players’ Player and Midfielder of the Season, and earned himself about R450 000 in prize money.
Crucially for Billiat, he is now on the verge of helping Sundowns reach the Champions League semi-finals.
The Warriors forward shook off what appeared a nasty knock towards the end of the first half to return from the break and score Sundowns’ winner as they upstaged former champions Zamalek.
Sundowns’ victory on Sunday night helped to all but clinch a CAF Champions League semi-finals place three months after being eliminated from the competition.
The Brazilians now need one point from a return match against Zamalek this month or a visit to Nigerian team Enyimba during August to be certain of a last-four spot.
Last April, Sundowns were eliminated on away goals after drawing 2-2 on aggregate with Vita Club from the Democratic Republic of Congo in the final qualifying round for the group phase.
But the Kinshasa outfit was disqualified for fielding a banned player, Malian Idrissa Traore, and Sundowns got a second chance.
Making the most of it, the South Africans beat Enyimba last month and the win over Zamalek gives them a three-point Group B lead.
Sundowns have six points, Zamalek three and Enyimba are pointless after also losing at home to the Egyptian giants.
The top two finishers advance to the semi-finals.
The other club in the mini-league, Entente Setif of Algeria, were kicked out after their supporters forced the abandonment of a match against Sundowns last month.
In Sunday’s match Tiyani Mabunda put Sundowns ahead after 18 minutes at the Petrosport Stadium in Cairo by latching on to a rebound off the post and slamming the ball past goalkeeper Ahmed El Shenawy.
Zamalek then took advantage of a defensive mix-up to level on 37 minutes as hesitancy between Ugandan goalkeeper Denis Onyango and centre-back Thato Nthethe allowed Mohamed Ibrahim to score.
Zimbabwean Billiat however ensured it was Sundowns who would be celebrating victory when he struck the 67th-minute winner by firing a low shot into the corner of the net soon after Colombian Leonardo Castro had been foiled by the woodwork.
Zamalek’s defeat completed a miserable weekend for Egyptian clubs with record eight-time African champions Al Ahly held 0-0 at home by Group A pacesetters Wydad Casablanca of Morocco.
Zesco United of Zambia used home advantage to defeat ASEC Mimosas of Cote d’Ivoire 3-1 in the same group.
A Wydad side coached by former Wales striker and manager John Toshack have seven points, Zesco are on six, ASEC three and Ahly one halfway through the group phase