Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
GEORGE CHIGOVA’S superman heroics in the COSAFA Cup quarter-final battle against Botswana on Sunday catapulted him into the elite company of goalkeepers around the world who have had the rare feat of saving three successive penalties in a shoot-out in a game of football.
The giant ‘keeper was the hero for the Warriors as he defied his huge frame with a great show of athleticism which helped him save three penalties on the bounce at the new Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane to help his team secure a nervy victory.
The match ended 1-1 after regulation time when a beautiful strike by Evans Rusike was cancelled out on the hour mark by the Zebras who profited from some poor marking in the Warriors defence and a surprise decision by the defenders not to employ a man on the far post.
The penalty shoot-out was expected to favour the Zebras, who were the underdogs coming into this match, and did not have the kind of pressure which the Warriors carried on their shoulders as the defending champions who also fielded some big-hitters, including Khama Billiat.
History, though, was against the Zebras who had not won a match against Zimbabwe in the COSAFA Cup with the Warriors having won two of their previous meetings in this competition, without conceding a goal, after a 2-0 victory in Windhoek and a 1-0 win in Bulawayo.
Zimbabwe coach Sunday Chidzambwa was also defending a proud 16-match unbeaten record in this competition which he has won three times in charge of the Warriors.
And, after 90minutes in which the Warriors had a number of good chances which they could not convert, the match spilled into the penalty shoot-out lottery where Chigova turned it into his show with three saves on the trot as the Zimbabweans squeezed a victory.
It’s rare for a goalkeeper to save three penalties in a shoot-out and Chigova’s feat saw him joining an exclusive club of players who have achieved such a feat.
(Manchester City and Chile)
When Portugal met Chile at the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, in the FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final on June 28, 2017, FIFA Confederations Cup, Bravo turned into the hero of his country with three successive saves from efforts by Ricardo Quaresma, Joao Moutinho and Nani in the penalty shoot-out to help Chile beat Portugal 3-0.
WILLY CABALLERO (Argentina and
When Liverpool took on Manchester City in the League Cup Final at Wembley on Feb 28, 2016, Caballero was the toast of Manchester City after saving three successive spot kicks from Lucas, Coutinho and Lallana in a penalty shoot-out to help his team win 3-1.
EDWIN VAN DER SAR (Holland and Manchester United)
When Manchester United took on Chelsea in the FA Community Shield at Wembley on August 5, 2007, Edwin van der Sar turned into the toast of the Red Devils United after saving three successive spot kicks from Claudio Pizarro, Frank Lampard and Shaun Wright-Phillips to help the Red Devils win the trophy 3-0 in the shoot-out
IGOR KOJIC, HADJUK BEOGRAD vs FK VOJVODINA, 2008
The goalkeeper saved FOUR penalties in a shoot-out before stepping up to score the winning goal.
PAUL CRICHTON, DONCASTER ROVERS vs ROCHDALE, 1990
Crichton saved the same penalty three times after the referee twice ordered a retake.
ARLOS ARIAS, ORIENTE PETROLERO vs UNIVERTARIO DE SUCRE, 2012
The Bolivian goalkeeper saved the same penalty three times when the referee twice ordered a retake for advancing off his line.
CHRIS OLDFIELD, HOME CITY vs MELBOURNE KNIGHTS, OCTOBER 2016
Oldfield blocked all four penalty kicks to lead his side to victory over Melbourne Knights.
CIARAN KELLY, SLIGO ROVERS vs SHAMROCK ROVERS, 2010
Kelly saved all the four of the Shamrock Rovers penalty kicks in that dramatic final which saw, at one stage, five straight penalties being missed by both sides. And, to that elite company, now include Chigova.
‘’Congratulations Zimbabwe Warriors for victory over Botswana in the 2018 COSAFA Cup 1/4 Finals,’’ Aces Youth Soccer Academy said on their Twitter account.
‘’AYSA proudly represented by graduates Khama Billiat, Abbas Brian Mbada Amidu, and George Chigova who saved 3 penalties in the shoot-out.’’
Chigova was mobbed by his teammates after the match for his heroics and the television commentators even acknowledged that the fans had just seen something special.
Even Tendai Noro, the Warriors forward who was not called for this COSAFA adventure, rushed onto the field to congratulate Chigova for his heroics.