Tadious Manyepo in JOHANNESBURG, South Africa
CYNTHIA Shonga is riding high at the ongoing COSAFA Women’s Championship here in Gauteng.
The Mighty Warriors goalkeeper is the only one yet to concede a goal at this festival.
Zimbabwe have won both their first two group matches against Lesotho (1-0) and Namibia (2-0).
Shadreck Mlauzi’s charges have to avoid defeat in their final group game against Botswana to secure a semi-final berth on their return to international football.
The 23-year-old Shonga was expected to sit out given the other two goalkeepers in the team, Lindiwe Magwede and Chido Dzingirai, are tried-and-tested veterans for the position.
But Mlauzi trusted his instincts and has been throwing Shonga in the deep end.
The Harare City goalminder hasn’t disappointed.
“I am very happy with how the team has performed up to now.
“I have built a very good understanding with my defence and that is one of the main reasons why we have not conceded a goal after two games.
“As a team, we are highly motivated, especially by the fact that we have not been playing football over the past two years.
“We are here to compete with the best in Southern Africa.
“For me, keeping clean sheets is the ultimate dream because I know what that does to the team. I am looking forward to yet another flawless goalkeeping show against Namibia in our next game.”
Yet, just six years ago, Shonga had a dream to become a lethal striker as she was an infield player at Faith Drive Academy.
“I was really good playing as a centre forward because I was blessed with power. I could pack really good shots and had an eye for goal,” said Shonga.
“But God had other plans for me and I am really grateful”. She converted to being a goalkeeper by sheer coincidence.
Faith Drive Academy were playing a friendly match against a Mutare-based team which had heavily built players who, after realising Faith Drive had a pint-sized keeper, resorted to hitting high balls at goal.
They were threatening a harvest of goals and Faith Drive coach John Masibera decided to deploy Shonga in goal.
“He (Masibera) just said Cynthia, you have big hands and you can rescue the situation. The rest is history”.