ON August 29, former Zimbabwe premier soccer league Goalkeeper of the Year Elvis Chipezeze walked onto Polokwane’s Peter Mokaba Stadium to make his debut for South African Premiership new side Baroka FC.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
Playing in the South African league had always been one of the former Chicken Inn shot stopper’s dream.
He may not be playing for the glamour clubs of South African football, but just the mere fact of playing there gives him the new challenge that he so desired at the beginning of the year.
It took him 74 minutes to concede his first goal in the league after Thabo Motlafi beat him with the opening goal in a one-all stalemate.
And so begins a new journey for the Warriors fringe player, who won the local championship with the GameCocks in 2015 and hopes to bounce back into the national team in future.
Chipezeze had been part of the Warriors squad especially during Kallisto Pasuwa’s tenure and the last time he was selected to play at the 2016 African Nations Championships (Chan) in Rwanda, he got sick.
“I haven’t actually played for the Warriors yet, but I have been there in the set-up a lot of times especially when Pasuwa was the coach and even went to the Chan. So my dream now is making a comeback to the national team and play because it’s always a good feeling representing your country,” the 28-year-old goalkeeper told The Sports Hub from his South African base.
And so the Baroka FC opportunity enhances his chances of being noticed by the national team coaches as the country bids for another Afcon appearance in Cameroon next year.
Chipezeze signed a three- year contract in March, but remained at Chicken Inn until June.
“I have always wished to play in the Absa Premiership; it’s actually a dream come true for me. I have always told myself that I have to play in this league at some point in my career. With the accolades I have won in Zimbabwe, it was high time I got a new challenge. So coming here was part of the plan at the beginning of the year,” the 2015 goalkeeper of the year and soccer stars finalist said.
Chipezeze had an incredible season for Chicken Inn last year in which he kept 19 clean sheets and deserved the best overall player award, but the selection panel completely ignored the goalkeepers.
He speaks of his debut in South African football.
“I will always remember my first match, which was against Highlands Park mainly because their goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini is my role model. I grew up watching Kapini and he became my role model. He is the main reason why I chose to play my football in Bulawayo and playing against him here is great.
“It was also nice to make my debut and the support I got from the whole team and the fans was amazing and made my life a lot easier,” revealed Chipezeze.
Chipezeze admits that coming to South Africa as a former goalkeeper of the year in Zimbabwe put him under a bit of pressure, hence he is rather circumspect in his targets.
“The club is happy to have signed one of the top goalkeepers in Zimbabwe. But coming here with that pedigree there is a lot of pressure, but they have confidence in me. Since it’s my first season, I just want to have more game time and learning the football just to take each game as it comes,” Chipezeze said
In South Africa, Chipezeze joins the growing list of Zimbabwean goalkeepers plying their trade in the South African premiership including Kapini, George Chigova (Polokwane City FC), Washington Arubi (Supersport United) and Energy Murambadoro at Amazulu while Edmore Sibanda is at Witbank Spur in the first division.
Chipezeze began his football career as a junior at Bristol City in Gweru’s Mkoba township before playing for Red Cross in the Midlands Division Two league at the age of 17.
He would go on to turn out for division one side Gweru Pirates where he spent two years.
In 2011, Chipezeze joined the ambitious and now-defunct Zimbabwe Alloys-sponsored project Zimall and it was at the end of that particular season that Chicken Inn signed him.