WARRIORS attacker, Khama Billiat (pictured) is looking to use the big stage of the Fifa Club World Cup to knock on the doors of Europe’s big leagues. By KEVIN MAPASURE
Billiat has been one of the shining stars in the South African top-flight league in recent years and is the reigning footballer of the year in that country, but a move overseas has been elusive despite links to several clubs in Europe.
As the Club World Cup roars into life, Billiat is looking to use the stage to showcase his talents in the hope of attracting scouts, who are set to invade Japan for the tournament.
In an interview with South African football magazine, KickOff, Billiat admitted he hoped to catch the scouts’ attention when he represents the African champions at this tournament.
“I will like to look at it in that way (to perform for potential scouts),” he told KickOff. “This is why I am saying I need to go to these tournaments in the best form. I have already worked on certain areas that I think I am weak in because this is a lifetime opportunity, which doesn’t come twice. You might get it once and if you don’t use it in doing your best, it will be a disadvantage to your career.
“I think everyone is looking forward to that, to just be on top of their game. I believe that every game is an opportunity, even those that we play locally, because you never know who is watching.
“If you are at the top of your game, some people might get interested in you, but yes, it is a bigger tournament and bigger opportunity for us to really bring our best form and see what will happen afterwards.”
While superstars, particularly from Real Madrid in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Alvaro Morata and Luka Modric, among others, will naturally take the limelight, Billiat is looking to make a big impression.
Billiat recently helped his club, Mamelodi Sundowns Caf Champions League glory after accounting for Egyptian giants Zamalek in the final, which earned him nomination for the Caf Footballer of the Year (based in Africa) award.
Before that, he was instrumental in driving the Warriors to only their third qualification to the Caf Africa Cup of Nations, scoring three goals in the qualifiers, as Zimbabwe finished top of Group L ahead of Swaziland, Guinea and Malawi.
Sundowns walk straight into the quarter-finals of the tournament, where they will meet the winner between Japanese side, Kashima Antlers and Oceania champions, Auckland City of New Zealand on Saturday.
European champions, Real Madrid and Colombia’s Athletico Nacional, who are the South American champions, are both already in the semi-final.
For Billiat to have a dream chance of rubbing shoulders with the superstars of Real Madrid, Sundowns will have to get past the quarter-final hurdle. It will not be an easy test to pass though, considering 2015 African champions TP Mazembe were thrashed 3-0 by Asian champions and Japanese heavyweights, Sanfrecce Hiroshima at the same stage last year.
Billiat is guaranteed at least two matches at the tournament and that could be enough for him to make his case.