The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe/Nigeria: Chigova Could Seal Greatness

Cape Town — GEORGE Chigova is 90 minutes away from greatness as he seeks yet another clean sheet -- this time against a Nigerian side known for attacking football. The big Dynamos goalie has been beaten just once in 480 minutes of action, a late consolation goal by Mali in a quarter-final match. Chigova emerged from the three Group B matches unhurt as Morocco, Uganda and Burkina Faso failed to score past him while Libya needed a penalty shoot-out to eliminate Zimbabwe in the semi-finals after a goalless 120 minutes.

Although he has not attracted interest from clubs in South Africa and beyond, Chigova has won praises from football analysts at the tournament.

Some even believe he has done enough to seal a place as the Warriors first-choice goalkeeper as a foundation for future campaigns is being laid.

"When we went into camp for CHAN, the coach told us that the aim was to reach the final and return home on February 2.

"Of course we missed out on the final but the fact that we play for third-place means we will be going home on February 2 as said by the coach before we came.

"That means we lived up to the coach's expectations and it is a good starting point for future matches and that includes the game against Nigeria.

"Defence is our strong point and we have to be able to contain Nigeria and finish the tournament on a high, we deserve a winning conclusion to a successful campaign," said Chigova.

In the defeat to Libya, Chigova heroically saved successive kicks to force the shoot-out into round three of sudden death.

In the end he could not make it three as he was beaten for pace and power by his opposite number, as Libya claimed a 5-4 victory in the shoot-out which saw three left-footed Zimbabwean takers failing to find the target.

"It was very painful to go out that way. Libya never threatened us during open play and it was very clear that they were actually playing for a draw so that we go into penalties.

"Unfortunately we failed to score and they ended up winning, which is usually the case when one team totally dominates but fails to score in open play," said Chigova.

When coach Ian Gorowa did not introduce a third substitute against Libya, speculation was that he wanted to replace Chigova just before the penalties and introduce Tafadzwa Dube who is renowned for saving penalties.

However, Chigova himself believes he has a good record with penalties.

"I have saved penalties before and I remember saving one from Charles Sibanda when I was still with Gunners and we were playing against FC Platinum.

"The other one I was now with Dynamos and I saved a penalty against Highlanders. So I was ready for the shoot-out against Libya," he said.

Chigova spoke about the back-to-back saves:

"It was not guesswork. I underwent training on penalties and I applied what I had learnt from the practice to good use and it worked. The penalty by their goalkeeper I had seen where it was going but it had pace and power.

"But I had been confident of saving it after what I had done earlier. I tried but in the end it was not to be our day."

He also looked back at the only goal he has conceded so far in the tournament.

"That goal was a result of lack of concentration. We were five defenders inside the box against one player but we allowed him to score because of loose marking.

"We were also thinking that the game was over and we relaxed, allowing them the easy goal that made the game tight up to the final whistle."

Chigova said the lack of enquiries from foreign clubs means he will stay focused on Dynamos as they plunge into the African Champions League this month.

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