Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
FORMER Zimbabwe international, Kennedy Nagoli, says Warriors midfielder Khama Billiat deserves respect in South Africa.
Billiat answered some of his critics in the best possible manner on Wednesday when he scored the solitary goal that handed Chiefs a crucial win against Chippa United.
The goal ensured the Amakhosi, who are chasing their first league title in five years, go into the final weekend of the race with their destiny in their hands.
Billiat has been under sustained attacks from critics, including coach Mlungisi “Professor’’ Ngubane, who labelled him an age-cheat and queried his huge pay cheque.
Nagoli, who played for Jomo Cosmos in South Africa for four years before embarking on a 11-year excursion abroad, told The Herald Billiat was going through a normal phase in football.
“I think Khama Billiat deserves some respect,” he said.
“It’s very normal for a player to experience a dip in form in football. Khama needs support more than the unjustified attacks.
“It’s a pity the way they criticise him. I don’t know how he will come out of this. But, it will depend on how he will take it and who is closer to him.
“He needs his confidence back and the club need to support him.
“He also has to fight for himself, work hard and prove that he is not what the people are saying about him.
“But my hope and wish for him is to stay at Chiefs,” said Nagoli.
Billiat was back on the scoresheet on Wednesday as Chiefs beat Chippa United to go into the final weekend sitting on top of the table on 56 points.
They have the same number of points with Sundowns but enjoy a superior goal difference ahead of tomorrow’s Super Saturday match against Baroka.
Nagoli said Billiat, who is the highest paid player in Supa Disk, needed to fight to prove himself.
At 30, Nagoli said it was normal for a player to experience fluctuation in form.
“Firstly, as a footballer, he is in the industry to earn money. So, it’s not fair to criticise him basing on his price tag or his earnings. I believe he worked hard to earn it.
“It’s also critical to look at his age when it comes to football development.
“He has gone through all the stages of development and where he is right now, age is just a number.
“By insinuating many things about him, probably what those people are trying to do is to kill the Zimbabwean football market.
“Khama grew up in an academy set-up and has gone through all the stages of development.
“Football stages have to be understood from this way: from eight to 12 years it’s introduction to football.
“The ages 12 to 16 years, it’s exposure to football and then from 16-years to 20 years, that’s when we say the player is now smelling football and having an excitement to play.
“Then the golden age is between 21 to 30 years. That is the period of growth and that is where Khama is right now.”
Nagoli, who runs a football academy in Harare, believes both Billiat and his team Kaizer Chiefs, need help at this juncture.
“If you look at the current Chiefs side, they have reached a ceiling and they cannot break the ceiling.
“They have to look at their background, their culture, development and recruitment of players.
“It’s high time the club start blending the team,” said Nagoli.
The former Warriors midfielder played for Santos in Brazil and had stints in Greece and Cyprus between 1995 and 2006.
South African football legend, Jomo Sono, rates Nagoli as the finest naturally-gifted football player to come out of Zimbabwe.