October 17, 2021

Kaizer Chiefs coach Hunt confirms Billiat, Castro availability for Wydad Casablanca clash

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The Amakhosi tactician hopes for a better showing against the Moroccans following the return of key players from injury

Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt says fit-again Khama Billiat and Leonardo Castro might not feature for the entire match against Wydad Casablanca in Saturday’s Caf Champions League Group C match but they are in contention for selection.

Billiat broke his leg in the 2-0 league defeat against Maritzburg United on January 9 and missed action during the months of February and March, while Castro has not taken part in Chiefs’ last five games.

Although Chiefs managed to beat Orlando Pirates in their last match without the duo, Hunt feels that their return will “make a big difference.”

“Billiat is training again and Castro certainly came in the reckoning. So they will give us certainly a little bit more. In the derby we had nothing on the bench so it was difficult for us,” Hunt told the media.

“They are back and will make a big difference to the team, they will give us a little bit more. Being fit to play for 90 minutes I don’t think so but at least we have them available for the game.”

If Billiat plays, having previously been a thorn in Wydad’s flesh during his days at Mamelodi Sundowns, it would be his first Champions League group stage match in Chiefs colours.

Reports suggest that Wydad Casablanca, who have already qualified for the quarter-finals, have sent a second-string squad and are also without head coach Faouzi Benzarti because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Their travelling party to Johannesburg will have to quarantine for 10 days upon return to Morocco while regular players will do duty in the upcoming matches after the Chiefs game.

Hunt feels that has not weakened Wydad and the players he will come up against will give them a hard time because they want to prove that they deserve regular game time. 

“It doesn’t concern me those type of things. I think players who have not been playing would want to prove a point,” said Hunt.

“It is sometimes harder to play against those type of players who haven’t played much. They have a good squad and they are a big club. We know their history, they have been in the Champions League final a couple of times, they are a top club.

“We looked bad when we played them in the first round. If you look at that game, you would think we were that bad because we lost 4-0 because of their quality. I don’t see any drop in their standards, I actually see an increase because the players would want to prove a point.”

Chiefs are third in Group C with five points, the same as second-placed Horoya who they visit after the Wydad game for their final match of this round.

Given the calibre of their opponents, Amakhosi’s last two group matches appear a huge threat to their ambitions of reaching the quarter-finals.

“Obviously this season hasn’t been good but still we can resurrect. We still have a lot to play for. There are some games to play and I still think we can finish well and try to get through to the knockout stage. There is a lot to play for,” Hunt said.

“There is not really much you can work on, I think the biggest thing Kaizer Chiefs is the mental thing after what happened last year. Certainly mental strength is what is needed more than physical strength. We have got eight games this month and hopefully we can rest in between so it is going to be tough. But we need more mental than physical strength.”