George Chigova has said he will share part of the R100 000 he received from ZIFA benefactor Wicknell Chivayo yesterday with some of his Warriors teammates. The giant goalkeeper has become the toast of the country after saving five successive penalties to help the Warriors reach the final of the COSAFA Cup today.
He has already been hailed by President Mnangagwa, who tweeted that the goalkeeper has “the safest hands in Zimbabwe”.
ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa also praised the goalkeeper in particular and the Warriors in general, for the way they have performed at the COSAFA Cup.
“George has been phenomenal and he has represented his country with a lot of credit and we hope that we will complete this mission with a victory in the final,” said Chiyangwa.
“The whole team has done well and they have played as a unit and, for a side that had been relegated to start playing in the qualifying group stages two years ago, to qualify for the final twice in succession means we are going places.
“We also want to thank the President for his inspirational message because when the boys know that the number one citizen in the country is not only following them, but is happy with how they have been performing, they can raise their game.”
Chiyangwa was speaking after receiving 10 ZIFA provincial leaders who paid a courtesy call on him to see how he has been recovering from recent eye surgery in South Africa.
The surgery means Chiyangwa cannot travel to the COSAFA Cup final today or the FIFA Congress where Zimbabwe will be represented by ZIFA deputy president Omega Sibanda, board member finance Phil Machana and chief executive Joseph Mamutse.
The provincial leaders said they remained supportive of Chiyangwa.
“It’s good to see my colleagues coming to check on me and it shows we are united as a family,” said Chiyangwa.
“My brother Wicknell also needs to be saluted for his gesture to try and boost the morale of the team with such a big bonus to our goalkeeper.
Earlier in the week, Chigova also received R3 000 from Zimbabwean businessman Laston Murerwa.
The South Africa-based businessman, through his company Last Power Spares, set the tone in motivating the Warriors when he hosted a welcome dinner for them and then dangled a R40 000 incentive for the senior football team, while also giving injured skipper Ovidy Karuru R1 000.
Chivayo yesterday said he was impressed with the way Chigova has represented his country.
“I did it wholeheartedly and it is in appreciation for what he has done for the country with those penalty saves,” he said.
“This my way of saying ‘George you are a gallant son of Zimbabwe and an achiever.”
Chigova, humbled by the gesture, said he would also share some of the money with his teammates.
He also took to social media to thank the Harare businessman, urging him to continue backing the national team.
“I just want to thank him for the reward, may the Lord bless him and also he must continue supporting the Warriors, we appreciate his help, it means a lot,” said Chigova.
“It is good to have people out there who appreciate what we are doing on the field of play. This is not just for me and so I will see what I can do for the guys also.”
The Warriors goalkeeper said they were expecting another tough outing against perennial rivals Zambia today.
“The final is going to be tricky because Zambia is a good side, but as a team we are prepared for them and we know they will come out for revenge since we beat them last year,” Chigova said.
Both Zambia and Zimbabwe have played 54 previous matches in the COSAFA Cup, the most of any competing nations, underlining why they share nine titles between them.