Billiat and Middendorp have mended their burnt bridge
Kaizer Chiefs star forward Khama Billiat says that he and coach Ernst Middendorp have made up over the quarrel they had regarding his international duty.
At the beginning of the season, Billiat was still carrying a knock sustained at the Africa Cup of Nations, meaning he played very little football for Chiefs.
The 29-year-old was initially not included in Zimbabwe's back-to-back qualifiers against Somalia on September 5 and 10. However, Billiat was called up after the Warriors lost the first leg 1-0, despite Middendorp believing his star was well short of match fitness.
Middendorp said at the time: "You should talk to the player. I actually have my own idea in this direction and, ja, the player made his decision and that’s it.
"It’s not about being impressed [with his performance]. We were not able as the club to use the player for full 90 minutes at all until now.
"Now, running into [such a game] – I understand – serving his country and so on, that is why I’m saying ask the player, how is he capable three days later to do something responsible?
"I have my own idea about it, I have my own way when I’m talking about loading; what is the idea behind effective training loading and structure.
"One idea behind [this] is to keep and to get the players totally injury free, and secondly the idea is to try as much as possible to get the player to a certain competitiveness that they can contribute to a team performance. So, now the rest you can put [thought] into yourself."
As it turned out, Billiat came to the rescue for his country with a 90th-minute winner to claim a 3-1 victory in the second leg and a 3-2 aggregate win which ensured their progression to the second round of the CAF 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
But Billiat, speaking to the club's official website on September 13 in the aftermath of the win over Somalia, seemed to have a dig at Middendorp when he said that 'nothing comes close' to playing for his country.
“We knew it was going to be a tough one… This was a must win for us. We started slow but I think we were anxious about the deficit. But at the end I am happy, and the Zimbabweans are happy we won.
“It was a long time coming (the goal). After all, it was a team effort and I am glad I contributed. Nothing comes close to representing the nation, especially if you consider the situation we found ourselves in.”
But now exactly a month later, Billiat says the pair have now put the matter behind them.
“We spoke about it and, yeah, as players we always want to play football and we always want to represent [the national team] whenever you’re called,” said Billiat.
“I think I couldn’t have done better, but I had to go since the club allowed me to go, and everything was solved in a professional way, and we’re all professional.
“It’s part of our career, things can be said and done, and we have to accept it and deal with it in the best way that we can.”