Malawi National Football Team striker Gabadinho Mhango is among 11 players in the Cosafa region that have scored hat-tricks.
For the past 25 years of the competition, no player from Zambia, Namibia or eSwatini has managed to score a treble.
According to statistics which Cosafa released this week ahead of the 2022 Cosafa men’s cup to be staged from July 5 to17 in Durban, South Africa, Mhango is the only Malawian player to have scored a hat-trick in the competition’s history.
’’Mhango is Malawi’s leading scorer in the Cosafa Cup with six goals, having often used the competition to showcase his quality. Three of those goals came against Angola in the 2016 tournament that was staged in Namibia, the first and, to date, the only Flames player to net a hat-trick,’’ Cosafa’s website reports.
Apart from writing his piece of history in the Cosafa Cup, Mhango is also the only Malawian player to score a brace at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals.
The former Nyasa Big Bullets superstar netted in the Flames’ 2-1 win over Zimbabwe in Cameroon early this year.
Sports analyst and former Flames and Mighty Wanderers attacker Sherry Msuku said Mhango has proved his quality on several occasions.
“It is pleasing to have one of us being counted among the best strikers in the Cosafa region. But we all know what Gaba is made of and seeing him on the list of the region’s top strikers should never be surprising,” Msuku said.
Mozambique’s Adelinho was the first player to score a hat-trick in the history of the regional competition in the Mambas’ 3-1 win over eSwatini during the 1997 edition.
Zimbabwean Peter Ndlovu became the second player to net a hat-trick in Cosafa Cup history when the Warriors thrashed eSwatini 5-0 in 2004 before Akwa of Angola achieved a similar feat in a 5-1 victory over Mauritius in 2006.
The following year, Paulin Voavy from Madagascar also netted a hat-trick before Seychelles’ Philip Zialor banged in four goals in a 7-0 win over Mauritius.
Other players who achieved similar feats are Jerome Ramatlhakwane (Botswana, 2013), Ovidy Karuru (Zimbabwe, 2017), Knox Mutizwa (Zimbabwe, 2017) and Tumisani Oredebonye (Botswana, 2021).