TNM Super League best defender for the 2019 season, Charles Petro, has opened up on life at FC Sheriff Tiraspol in Moldova, saying the coach at the Eastern Europe club has asked him to also play in midfield.
The former Nyasa Big Bullets player said adaptation was the name of the game at the Divizia Nationala (National Division) and Moldova Cup champions.
“I have featured in six friendlies so far, playing in my traditional role as a centre-back and sometimes as a holding midfielder. The coach [Zoran Zekic] did not explain why I also have to play in midfield but that is not an issue with me. In modern football, you have to adapt and play anywhere a coach wants you to,” he said.
That Petro is playing in midfield could be due to the fact that he is Sheriff’s shortest defender, standing at 1.73 metres (m) compared to others such as Zimbabwean Alec Mudimu (1.85m), Matej Palcic (1.81m), Andrei Peteleu (1.82m), Cristiano da Sila Leite (1.80m) and Ousmane N’Diaye (1.86m).
In 2012, Flames defender Limbikani Mzava passed trials at AS Monaco in France but was told that he was too short for a defender and was not signed. Mzava’s estimated height is 1.82m.
Petro said football standards in Moldova, which is ranked 175 on Fifa-Coca/Cola World Rankings compared to 123 for Malawi, were slightly better due to finer details.
“It is the same game but they have the organisation, facilities and equipment. Players have access to many balls in training which is followed by a video analysis off the pitch. I was fortunate that we were also doing this at Bullets where we could analyse games and see how we need to approach a game.
“I have also noted here that football is so structured you cannot feature for a senior team without going through all the developmental teams. Each senior team has many youth sides of many age brackets, each with its own pitch. Geographically, Moldova is smaller but it is amazing they have more playing venues compared to Malawi,” he said.
Petro’s latest friendly was a 2-0 loss to Russian giants Kazan Rubin on Saturday in Turkey.
Sheriff’s senior player, N’Diaye, told the club’s website that they were using the pre-season games in Turkey to get acquainted to new signings such as Petro.
“Training camp is going at a good level. We have a lot of new players in our team who are trying to fall into the team. We are trying to get to know each other. We play with good opponents. We know what to do and what results should be achieved in the Champions League, possibly in the Europa League. We work a lot on tactics,” the Senegalese player said.
Welcoming Petro to their fold on February 12 2020 after month-long trials, Sheriff hailed him as a gem of a player. Petro is adept at man-marking, tackles cleanly and is an astute reader of the game.
“Despite his young age, the 19-year-old player made his debut for the national team of his country. This happened in the qualifying for the World Cup, Africa,” www.sheriff.com reported.
Petro was a revelation in his debut season for the People’s Team last season after earning promotion from Nyasa Big Bullets Reserve.
At Sheriff, Petro stands a chance to sample either the Uefa Champions League or Europa League.
Petro, who has also cemented his place in the Flames’ defence, is the third Malawian player based in Europe after Tawonga Chimodzi (Cyprus) and Francisco Madinga (Georgia).