Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp once again slated the handling of Khama Billiat with the Zimbabwe national team as he explained the star’s absence in their TKO defeat.
Billiat was left out of Chiefs’ matchday squad of their Telkom Knockout semi-final defeat to Maritzburg United on Sunday despite travelling with the team to Nelspruit last Friday.
The 29-year-old forward returned on Thursday morning from international duty with The Warriors, where he played 180 minutes in their two 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia - against whom he scored a brace last Tuesday.
While it was always going to be a challenge, given the close proximity of the games, Middendorp was optimistic of his talisman recovering in time but this was not the case as he failed a late fitness test on Saturday afternoon.
The German again expressed his discontent with the way in which Billiat was managed by his national team, after he also returned with an injury having played 90 minutes with a niggle last month.
“Of course, it’s upsetting [that Billiat was unavailable]. He definitely went already with a tight hamstring into two national team games, but [there is] nothing we can do,” said Middendorp.
“He played against Botswana, and was already playing with pain. He came back despite this and played in Zambia, and it was not possible [to get him ready to face Maritzburg].
“We tried on Saturday afternoon with a late [fitness] test, but it was impossible to bring him in.”
Chiefs next travel to Cape Town as they turn their attention back to league action with a clash against Stellenbosch at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday (19h30).