ZIMBABWE international goalkeeper George Chigova produced a stunning man-of-the-match super show at the FNB Stadium last night as he single-handedly stopped champions Kaizer Chiefs from recording a fifth straight win in the ABSA Premier League.
The towering former Dynamos goalkeeper turned back the hands of time, to a period when he was the country’s first choice goalminder, as he turned on his best performance since moving to South Africa where he was dumped by SuperSport United and ended up at lightweights Polokwane City.
Chigova was named man-of-the-match as Polokwane City held Kaizer Chiefs, who had won their last four league matches, to a 1-1 draw with the big Zimbabwe goalminder catching the eye with a vintage performance that could have a huge bearing in the championship race in South Africa.
Had Chiefs won last night, they would have moved within striking range of leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, who play Mpumalanga Black Aces tonight, but a superb performance by Chigova frustrated the Amakhosi, in their home ground, with a number of super saves.
He reserved the best for last, springing into the air, late in time added on, and showing great reflexes to tip a dipping shot, hit from range and which appeared to be dipping home, over the bar.
“I want to thank God,” Chigova told SuperSport after the match.
“The award is not only for me, but also for my teammates. We haven’t been doing well away from home and we told each other that we need to do better and collect as many points as we can.”
Kaizer Chiefs coach, Steve Komphela, cursed his side’s ill-fortune of running into goalkeepers who would be at the top of their game.
In the 15th minute, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Lucky Baloyi combined and the latter played a pass to George Maluleka, who forced Chigova into a decent save.
Chiefs should have broken the deadlock eleven minutes later when Tshabalala curled a free-kick towards the far-post and unmarked Willard Katsande missed the target from close range.
However, a minute after the half-hour, Maluleke sent in a free-kick from the right and Thobani Mncwango made it 1-0 to Polokwane with a good header.
It took only five minutes for Chiefs to respond with a goal after Erick Mathoho headed home Tshabalala’s corner-kick to restore parity heading into the half-time break.
In the 67th minute, Chigova produced a great save to deny Abraw from close range following a well-taken cross from Maluleka.
The trio were again involved in the 74th minute when Togolese striker Abraw crossed from the right, but Chigova saved Maluleka’s attempt as Chiefs searched for the winning goal.
Chiefs launched late attacks in stoppage time, but they proved futile as Polokwane keeper Chigova ensured that the game ended in a 1-1 stalemate on the night.
Chigova’s good performance last night continued a great run by Zimbabwean players in foreign leagues with midfielder Marvellous Nakamba creating waves in Holland after he scored his first league goal for his club Virtese — a beauty that has been the talking point of the Dutch top-flight.
Nakamba, who played for the Warriors when they beat Malawi in a 2017 Nations Cup qualifier in Blantyre, collected a pass wide on the flanks, took two steps and, from distance, fired a beauty that beat the ‘keeper.
The midfielder is a Bantu Rovers product and has been a consistent performer for his club in Holland amid reports that he is now attracting the interests of bigger European sides.
Bantu Rovers director Methembe Ndlovu recently hailed the exceptional consistency of Nakamba as vindication of his approach to talent development
The Bulawayo-born midfielder, who turned 22 in January, was among the first recruits of Ndlovu’s Bantu Rovers project back in 2009, making his top-flight debut at 16 in line with the club’s philosophy of exposing promising schoolboys to competitive football.
Ndlovu believes the early start played a pivotal role in moulding Nakamba, who is now able to deliver consistently at the highest level even though he is still relatively young.
“We started working with Nakamba when he was in form two (15-years old) and by the time he got to form three he was already playing in the Premiership along with Kuda Mahachi,” Ndlovu told Goal.
“So, he gained a lot of experience from a very young age and this has helped his development. We hope he will continue to play well in the Netherlands. He has a lot of potential and if he continues to develop I can see him eventually moving to one of Europe’s big leagues.”
Nakamba featured mostly as a wide midfielder at Bantu, but he is now playing on the left side of a three-man central midfield in a 4-3-3 formation, revelling in the box-to-box role which allows him to indulge his offensive impetus while also refining his defensive qualities.
In fact, the ball winning side of his play has immensely impressed Vitesse coach Peter Bosz, who observed recently that Nakamba would “fit very well in England with his honest, aggressive way of playing”.
Ndlovu again is not surprised: “At Bantu we make sure that our young players get the experience of playing in all departments. Mahachi used to play at left-back at one stage for instance.
“So, although we used Nakamba mostly as a wide midfielder here, he has also occasionally played as a striker, holding midfielder and at full-back.”
Former Zimbabwe Under-20 star Nakamba remains something of a mystery in local football cycles though, having played only one season in the Premiership back in 2010 as Bantu were relegated to Division One.
He joined French side Nancy in 2012, spending much of the time in the reserve league, before moving to Vitesse at the start of the 2014-2015 campaign. He made just eight substitute appearances in his debut season in the Dutch top-flight. — Sports Reporter/KickOff/Goal.