Zifa, Sundowns clash over Billiat

HARARE - Zifa and Absa Premiership side Mamelodi Sundowns are headed for a collision over forward Khama Billiat’s availability for Sunday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Liberia.

The Warriors, who are in Group G together with DR Congo and Congo, host the Lone Stars at the National Sports Stadium hoping to kick-start their campaign on a positive note.

Billiat, who was included in the provisional squad to face Liberia, has been down with an ankle injury that has kept him out of the Sundowns’ two previous African Champions League matches against AS Vita of DR Congo and Tunisian giants Esperance.

The Sundowns forward was scheduled to arrive in the country yesterday to join his teammates but the Brazilians have reportedly declined to release the player, insisting he has not fully recovered from the ankle injury.

Yesterday, Zifa communications officer Xolisani Gwesela told the Daily News that they are preparing a letter to South African Football Association (Safa) to try and force Sundowns to release the player.   

“We are going to write to Safa because this is a recognised international match and the club is entitled to release the player in line with international football regulations governing the release of players,” Gwesela said.

Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa, who joined the Warriors during their afternoon training session at Yadah Hotel where the team is preparing for Sunday’s match, made frantic efforts to get hold of Sundowns officials yesterday.

Chiyangwa also revealed that his association has made all the necessary logistics to ensure the Warriors’ welfare is taken care of.

“I have negotiated with Walter Magaya that he takes care of the national team. This is the provision of accommodation, food and transport,” Chiyangwa said.

“And if you speak to the players individually, they will testify that everything is okay and it’s something that has not happened in a long time.

“This place is nice, the hospitality and the food itself is very good and I trust we can continue with such a relationship with Magaya.”

Meanwhile, Warriors interim coach Norman Mapeza has been forced to drop the injured CAPS United duo of goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda and defender Dennis Dauda.

The duo missed their team’s African Champions League defeat to Al-Ahli Tripoli last Friday.

Polokwane City goalkeeper George Chigova and Dynamos defender Lincoln Zvasiya will replace the Makepekepe players.

“The majority of the players are here except for (Onismo) Bhasera who I think should be joining us tomorrow (today),” Mapeza said.

“Sibanda and Dauda, from what I’m hearing from the doctors are out because they are saying they should be back maybe sometime next week. But we have already brought in Zvasiya and Chigova so yeah, that’s the situation as of now.”     

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