Petros Kausiyo in POLOKWANE, South Africa
WARRIORS goalkeepers’ coach Brenna Msiska, basking in the glory of the heroics of George Chigova, believes the country’s first-choice goalminder is now ripe to take a crack at clubs in the bigger European leagues. Chigova has been the star of the Warriors show so far, etching his name into the world’s records for goalkeepers with the most successive penalty saves.
The 27-year-old Polokwane City goalkeeper has been the difference for the Warriors at this tournament.
He has also won praise from President Mnangagwa.
“As we currently debate which candidate has the safest hands for Zimbabwe, we can all agree the answer is without a doubt George Chigova, the Warriors heroic goalkeeper who has saved FIVE penalties this week to get the Warriors into the COSAFA Cup final,’’ the President said on his official Twitter account.
“Congratulations also go to the Zimbabwean Women’s Team who beat Zambia in the first leg of the final qualifying round of the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) yesterday.
“Best of luck to both teams facing our neighbours Zambia this weekend!’’
Msiska said the country had a number of good goalkeepers.
“We are a country that is blessed with very good goalkeepers and the competition is very stiff. We can call on Edmore Sibanda, Donovan Bernard, Talbert Shumba, Takabva Mawaya . . . any of these can easily be our number one, so there is no time for anyone to relax,’’ said Msiska.
“But George has shown vast improvement over the years and what you are seeing from him is not a fluke. It is a result of a lot of hard work and I think he is now ready for Europe. I am so happy for him.
“The way he is playing even for his club shows that he deserves to go to Europe.
“I think he is now too good for the South African league and he has made us proud.
“I keep telling him that he has everything a goalkeeper needs, the height, the big frame and the agility and age is still on his side. With him in the team, you can rest be assured that we are safe, he has a good understanding with the defence, but I still want him to talk a lot at the back.
“We still need to work on his organisation of his players, especially from set pieces, whether we are defending zonally or through man-to-man marking.’’
Msiska, who has of late become a prayer Warrior, also felt God has been on their side after they were robbed by Swaziland referee Thulani Sibandze in last year’s CHAN qualifier against Namibia.
“God works in many ways and He has decided to reverse all that had been going wrong with us in the penalties.
“We were hard done by the referee against Namibia and were also just unlucky to lose both our matches on penalties in the Four Nation tournament in Zambia where I thought George also did very well,’’ Msiska said.
Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa agreed with Msiska and in paying tribute to Chigova, also said his first choice goalkeeper should now take aim at Europe.
“I think he has done enough to prove that he has grown and as far as I am concerned, he must be playing in Europe and the fact that he saves penalties like that is a plus for us,’’ Chidzambwa said.
Chigova wants his teammates to focus on clearing the remaining hurdle.
“I am happy as a goalkeeper to contribute to the success of the team. Now we are in the final and we are going to focus and work hard to try and retain our title.
“As a team we have been creating a lot of chances and I know that one day we are going to win by a big margin and I hope that this will happen on Saturday.
“We have played Zambia a number of times, including in friendlies, and it is not going to be easy, but we are determined to make our fans happy.
“They have been coming in numbers to support us,’’ Chigova said.