GEORGE Chigova proved the saviour once again for Zimbabwe, keeping out two penalties in a shoot-out that followed a regulation time deadlock in the Warriors’ Cosafa Cup semi-final clash with the Crocodiles of Lesotho at Peter Mokaba last night.
BY HENRY MHARA IN POLOKWANE, SOUTH AFRICA
Zimbabwe won 3-1 after a penalty shoot-out
Zimbabwe will play old enemies Zambia on Saturday at the same venue, in a repeat of last year’s final, which Sunday Chidzambga’s men won comfortably.
In a match where the two teams never reached second gear, and failed to utilise the few chances created to settle it, it was left for the two goalkeepers, Chigova and his opposite, Likano Mphuthi to decide the contest.
It was the big man, who came out tops, having decided the quarter-final contest against Botswana with three saves during the penalty shoot-out.
The Polokwane City man saved Hlompo Kalake and Mafa Moremoholo’s kicks with Masoabi Nkoto converting his effort.
After Khama Billiat, James Mukombwe and Alex Mudimu had converted theirs for Zimbabwe, it was left for Jane Thabantsho to keep his side in the match.
But he feigned his kick and the referee adjudged it to be a foul, and with it handed victory to the Warriors in the most farcical of fashions
While the team will be happy to make the final, they know they have to improve from this performance if they are to retain the cup.
Chidzambga made two changes to the team that beat Botswana, with Tanzania-based midfielder Tafadzwa Kutinyu replacing the injured Ovidy Karuru.
Terrence Dzvukamanja was preferred ahead of Talent Chawapiwa.
Without the qualities of Karuru in midfield, the defending champions struggled for fluidity with his replacement appearing to be overwhelmed by the occasion.
Lesotho looked comfortable in possession early on, but fortunately for Zimbabwe, they didn’t really trouble Chigova.
Their only meaningful attack came midway through the first half, when Tsepo Toloane was given space inside the box, and his angled shot found no takers and it drifted across the face of the goal.
Zimbabwe were also struggling to fashion any clear-cut opportunities.
It took them 44 minutes to force Lesotho goalkeeper into making a save, when a Mukombwe shot deflected onto Abbasi Amidu’s path, but the striker was caught flat footed, and when he reacted, the keeper had come off his line to clear the danger.
Chidzambga’s men started the second half decently, and should have taken the lead on the 51st minute, but Dzvukamanja took the wrong decision of shooting when laying the ball for a better placed Amidu was probably the best option.
The tempo would soon die down though, with the team struggling to knit passes together.
Zimbabwe: G Chigova, J Mukombwe, K Moyo, D Lunga, A Mudimu, M Munetsi, K Billiat, A Amidu (T Chawapiwa, 51′), T Kutinyu, T Dzvukamanja, E Rusike (T Kadewere, 62′)
Lesotho: L Mphuthi, M Moremoholo, B Makepe, K Tseka, H Kalake, T Toloane, S Motebang (M Nkoto, 68′), L Matsoso, L Thetsane, T Khutlang, M Potloane (T Jane, 60′)