Billiat: I must grow as a player

Mamelodi Sundowns winger Khama Billiat says both he and his Zimbabwean teammates must treat the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations as a learning curve.

The Warriors exited the competition on Monday night after a 4-2 defeat to Tunisia, having lost 2-0 to Senegal and drawn 2-2 with Algeria in their previous Group B encounters.

Billiat, whose exploits for Sundowns over the last few years, and especially last year, when he helped his club win the CAF Champions League, made him a player marked down by European scouts at the tournament in Gabon.

But after impressing against Algeria, the former Ajax Cape Town player was largely anonymous against Senegal and Tunisia. At times it looked as if he was trying too hard to impress and ended up losing possession needlessly.

It will therefore remain to be seen if he is to follow his Sundowns team-mate Keagan Dolly in earning a move to Europe – Dolly has just signed for French side Montpellier.

By his own admission, Billiat, the 2015/6 PSL Player of the Season, says he still needs to develop his game further.

"My goal was to go all the way and help my country play in the AFCON final, but it ends here. I feel I could have done a lot better. 

"I still have a lot to learn. I still have to grow as a player," he said from Libreville.

He added: "It was a good experience coming up against those guys. When you play them you can see why they are playing in Europe. It was a learning experience and I picked up some lessons.

"Playing against Europe-based players was a good experience for me personally. We played individuals that we can learn something from."

From a team perspective, the livewire winger apologised to fans for not meeting expectations.

"There were a lot of things that we as a team could have done better. The free kicks could have been better, the corners and other small details," he explained.

"I would like to thank the fans, they were awesome, they supported and believed in us. Without them, we would not have qualified and at this tournament, they were sending us messages, we saw in the media how much they believed in us. 

"Unfortunately, we disappointed them and we want to say we are sorry about that."