Gaba returns as Pirates lose

Meck Mwase

Flames forward Frank Gabadinho Mhango finally returned to Orlando Pirates’ team when he replaced Zakhele Lepasa late in the second half but the Buccaneers still lost 3-2 to Libyan side Al-Ittihad in a Caf Confederation Cup tie on Sunday.

The Malawian has been the subject of discussion at Pirates following his continued omission from the starting line-up despite having a stellar performance at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon.

However, Orlando Pirates co-coach Mandla Ncikazi, who continues to undermine Gabadinho despite calls from legends to change his mind, swallowed his pride when he introduced the Malawian late on.


Pirates introduced the Malawian after the hosts’ Omar Al Khouja scored what proved to be the winner with 53 minutes on the clock.

“Gabadinho Mhango then came off the bench for Bucs for Zakhele Lepasa with the visitors needing a goal, but his 75th minute shot from the edge of the area was blocked,” reported

“A late Mhango effort was then blocked en route to goal, and that proved to be Pirates’ last chance to get anything out of this tie.”


Gabadinho, who was the 2020 DStv Premiership joint scorer with 16 goals apiece, was unavailable for comment.

His compatriot Peter Banda of Tanzania’s Simba SC also came off the bench when his side salvaged a one-all draw away to Niger’s Union Sportive Gendarmerie Nationale (USGN).

Meanwhile, Flames coach Meck Mwase has said it was important for every national team player to get game-time.

“We acknowledge the competition at Pirates and we are also aware of the quality Gabadinho possesses. We are happy that the coach gave him a chance to play. This is good for the player, the team and the Flames,” he said.

Commenting on Banda’s performance, Mwase said it was good that the player continues with his development.

“Peter is an exceptional talent. Many supporters doubted his abilities when he joined the team but he has proved them wrong. We expect all our players abroad to get more game-time as this will help them improve,” he said.

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