Cape Town - Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rulani
Mokwena admits they came close to landing Khama Billiat but dismissed the
notion that Kaizer Chiefs won the race for his signature.
The Zimbabwe international ended a
successful five-year spell with Mamelodi Sundowns when he joined Amakhosi on a
free transfer ahead of the 2018/19 campaign.
Pirates had been linked with a move for
Billiat after he'd entered the final six months of his contract at Chloorkop,
although nothing materialised and the 28-year-old eventually signed for their
Ahead of the 66th Soweto derby on Saturday
at the FNB Stadium, Mokwena insisted that the Buccaneers decided against
pursuing a deal for the Premiership star, partly due to his injury record.
"I still have a very good relationship
with Khama. I speak [to him]. I know that you guys know that we tried to sign
Khama‚" said Mokwena, who worked with Billiat as part of Pitso Mosimane's
coaching staff at Sundowns.
"We decided at the last moment not to
sign Khama. We had lots of talks with Khama - myself and Khama.
"We were very close to bringing Khama
to the black and white. But we decided on protecting the change-room more than
anything else‚ because of the ratio between the expense and the profit.
"And when I say expense‚ I am not
talking about the salary‚ because I've heard a lot of talk about that. But also,
the expense with regards to injuries and even certain other factors‚ and the
profit that we would get‚ and we thought that it would not make sense.
"So, it's not that Pirates lost out on
the race to sign Khama. Pirates didn't lose out on the race to sign Khama.
Pirates decided not to sign Khama."
Billiat sustained a back injury while on
international duty and is rated doubtful for the sold-out clash against Bucs,
after missing the Telkom Knockout penalty shootout victory over Black Leopards