The Sunday Mail
THE 2014 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season has been a breakthrough campaign for ZPC Kariba goal minder Tendai “Fish” Hove.
A shoulder injury, which has ruled him out of action for the past four matches, has threatened to spoil Hove’s otherwise impressive season, but the Kwekwe-born keeper is, without doubt, one of the finds of the season.
The 27-year-old glove man has been a prominent figure at Saul Chaminuka’s magical ZPC Kariba, who are featuring prominently in the Premiership’s title tussle in only their maiden season.
With 13 clean sheets to his name, the most by any goalie in the league this year, and a mean concession rate of 0.66 goals per game, Hove is well on course to land the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League’s Goalkeeper of the Year award in his debut top flight season.
His efforts have not gone unnoticed, as The Sunday Mail has learnt that the former Chrome Stars ‘keeper has attracted huge interest, both at home and abroad, and could be prised away from Kariba at the end of the season.
“Honestly speaking, I never dreamt that I would be among the best keepers for 2014 when the season started back in March.
“This year has been a revelation, I am happy at ZPC Kariba, but if there are better offers, I will consider them,” said Hove.
When pressed to divulge more on his possible move, the modest goalie could only say: “Well, all I can tell you is that there has been interest . . . for now that is all I can say.”
A long jump specialist at Amaveni Secondary School in Kwekwe a decade ago, Hove’s decision to take goalkeeping seriously was influenced by former Warriors skipper Washington Arubi, a long-time neighbourhood buddy, who by then was still at Manunure High.
Hove even represented the Midlands province at the national track and field finals held at the National Sports Stadium in 2004 before deciding to pursue football.
“Arubi’s exploits began to inspire me when he joined Lancashire Steel as a schoolboy and I immediately decided to take soccer seriously.
“I was always in constant contact with Washy. He was really good, I tell you, and I still rate him as one of the best ‘keepers ever produced in the country,” Hove revealed.
As the young Hove grew up in the streets of Amaveni, a popular high-density suburb in Kwekwe town, football started and ended with Lancashire Steel, the team all the budding youngsters from the region dreamt of playing for.
But as it panned out, Hove would not play for the “Chimbi Chimbi Boys”, even after his uncle and namesake Tendai Hove was drafted into the team’s executive.
Hove instead joined Chrome Stars soon after school.
At Chrome, the soft-spoken Hove worked under different coaches who included former Warriors striker Luke Petros Jukulile, Gatsi Mukombwe and Partson Ndabambi.
It was Ndabambi who would later lure Hove to ZPC Kariba at the beginning of the 2011 season, following his appointment as team manager at the electricians.
And Hove doesn’t regret the move as he has since outgrown his childhood wishes.
His 2014 fine show has not escaped the eyes of fellow Premiership ‘keepers who now rate the “Fish” highly, with one of the league’s most experienced goal minders, Ephraim Mazarura, endorsing Hove as the Premiership’s number 1 goalie.
“A good goalkeeper is judged by how many clean sheets he keeps, and Hove has done just that.
“He has done well this year and he deserves special recognition,” said Mazarura.
A Class One electrician, Hove disclosed that he has been forced to shelve the trade to concentrate on the beautiful game.
As his stock rises with each day, Hove remains humble.
“Yes, I might have the highest number of clean sheets so far this season, but that achievement should not basically be attributed to my skills alone.
“It is all about good communication with my defence, which I should say is well marshalled by Dennis Dauda.
“Besides, I am not the only ‘keeper worth mentioning; a number of goalies have done very well, especially Ariel (Sibanda).
“I also attribute this success to my trainer, Tembo Chuma, a goalkeepers’ trainer who I must say is underrated,” said Hove.
The name Chuma arouses little interest in local football circles, for he is one of those unheralded backroom staffers.
Nonetheless, the goalkeepers coach’s Midas Touch with ‘keepers in the past three seasons is worth noting as it seems whatever he touches turns into gold.
In 2012, he worked Sibanda to the top of his game and last season his goalkeeping lectures propelled Munyaradzi Diya to the Soccer Star of the Year calendar.
And now Chuma, who has settled well at ZPC Kariba, could as well produce another Soccer Star of the Year finalist in the form of Hove.
“The young man (Hove) is hard-working and willing to learn new techniques. He is brave, especially in one-on-one situations and has improved a lot on his positioning.
“The secret behind this job is to make sure you create harmony among all your keepers, dispel the notion of juju through preaching the word of God to them and create competition by having at least two very good goalies at any given time,” said Chuma.