Solinas is a good coach‚ says Billiat of his former Kaizer Chiefs mentor
Khama Billiat admits that the pressure to win a trophy at Kaizer Chiefs is intense but maintains the players are doing all they can to bring silverware to Naturena.
Chiefs are closing in on four seasons without a trophy‚ as they embark on a Nedbank Cup campaign with having been drawn to meet third-tier Tornado FC in the last-32.
Such a dry run is unprecedented in their illustrious history‚ and following a stuttering league campaign to date‚ the Nedbank Cup could provide them with a final opportunity.
The last-32 fixtures will be played from January 23 to 29‚ with the PSL to announce dates and venues.
“Big clubs are demanding‚ we all want to win every game. We are not here to sit and drink coffee‚ we are here to win‚” Billiat said.
“The minute I signed for Chiefs I felt the pressure; there is so much expected of the club. But it’s sometimes nice to play with the pressure because it means you don’t relax and it can make you a better player.
“You see football differently when you are always working for something and always have to do something extra.
“I don’t remember the last time we played without pressure. Even if we play a friendly game‚ players want to win‚ coaches want to win.”
The Zimbabwe international says the players are adjusting to life under new coach Ernst Middendorp‚ who has brought some fresh ideas to training.
“When there is a new coach there is always a new energy. Different training sessions‚ it’s always like that‚” he said.
“We are still working out a lot of things. We are working on some combinations and how he wants us to play. It looks good and hopefully we will adjust to it quickly.”
But Billiat also suggested the players need to carry the blame for the demise of former coach Giovanni Solinas‚ who he felt did little wrong in his brief tenure.
“We never wanted to be in the situation we were in – the players‚ coaches‚ club and the fans. No-one was happy.
“We didn’t want to lose‚ but things were not working‚ and the blame for that should come to the players‚ because we are the ones who go out there and play. We can’t blame the coach.
“He’s [Solinas] a good coach‚ it was great working with him. We tried and he tried‚ we could see he was trying to teach us something in football. Maybe we didn’t adjust well to his philosophy … I don’t know.
“But it’s always like that – players come and go‚ coaches come and go.”
Billiat also warned his teammates they cannot take Tornado FC lightly when the teams meet in the Nedbank‚ with the game likely to be played at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane‚ East London.
ABC Motsepe League side Tornado were thumped 4-0 by Orlando Pirates the last time they appeared in the competition in 2015‚ and were hammered 8-0 by SuperSport United in 2005.
“Chiefs is a big team and everybody wants to beat Chiefs. It’s a great feeling for them [opponents]‚” the forward said.
“It’s going to be a mental game and we have to be strong on the day. We know how it is as players – you tend to take it easy and go there thinking it will be easy.
“I hope on the day we will all be mentally prepared and mentally strong to deal with the game.
“I look at it positively‚ if we know that every team wants to beat us then it should make us stronger and prepared to perform every week. We have to come up with something new and that makes you grow as a player.
“It’s the second-last trophy [this season‚ including the Absa Premiership] and that brings more pressure. We have to take the pressure because also if you go there too desperate to do well‚ it won’t work either for us.
“We have got to have an understanding that this is a knockout competition and we will go out [if Chiefs lose]‚ which is a different mentality from the league.
“We have to be professional when we play in the Nedbank Cup‚ but we also want to express ourselves during the game.”