One of the country’s promising goalkeeping prospects Nicho Francis who left the country in search for greener pastures has resurfaced in Swaziland where he has joined premiership side Mbabane Swallows.
By Brian Nkiwane
The promising Zimbabwean goalkeeper penned a two-year contract at his new team.
Francis made headlines when he made it into the 2007 Cosafa Under-20 Championships awards winning team where he was voted Goalkeeper of the Tournament, joining South Africa’s Michael Nkambule who was voted Players of the Tournament, Lazarus Kaibi of Namibia, Emmanuel Mayuka of Zambia, Tobias Francisco Angola and Claudio Ramaidamanana of Madagascar who all finished as Top Goal Scorers with five goals each.
Speaking to Standardsport from his Swaziland base, Francis said at first he found the going tough, but said things had normalised after he started featuring for his new employers.
The gangling goalkeeper has so far featured three times — in two league encounters and one cup match.
“I am happy I have started playing now since joining the club a few months ago. What I want to do now is to improve on my work. As I speak, I have no clean sheets to talk about. I have conceded a goal in each of the three matches which I think I should improve on,” Francis said.
However, the 2007 Cosafa Cup Goalkeeper of the Tournament still harbours hopes of making a comeback to the Warriors set up as the number one choice.
“I am still 24, and I have many more years of a goalkeeping career. The award that I won with the Under-20 gives me hope that one day I will also do it with the senior national team. I also played for the Under-23 age group, so I know a lot about Zimbabwean football.”
At Mbabane Swallows, Fancis is lining up with other Zimbabweans that include former Sundowns defender Talent Maphosa, Alois Ngwerume and Jim Knowledge, a goalkeeper who once had a stint with Zimbabwean football giants Dynamos.
“I have managed to settle well at my new club because of the support that I got from fellow Zimbabwean players that I found here. They have been giving me support from the time I arrived.”
During his days as a junior player, Francis played alongside Archford Gutu, Khama Billiat, Knowledge Musona, George Chigova, Ariel Sibanda and Brian Abbas Amidu, to mention a few, from the Under-17 age group to the Under-23s.
His career started flourishing when he was at Monomotapa in 2008 where they won the league before moving to Motor Action the following year.
Francis stuck with the Mighty Bulls up until 2013 when he decided to pack his bags for Bulawayo with an intention of trying his luck at then newly-promoted Plumtree Chiefs.
Despite winning the Southern Region ticket to play in the topflight league, Plumtree Chiefs sold the franchise to Bantu Rovers.
Francis stayed with Bantu Rovers for six months before he moved to Swaziland.
Asked about the level of football in Swaziland, Francis said football was the same everywhere.
“It’s only that football in Swaziland is still growing, but I can tell you football is the same everywhere you go,” he said.