A prominent South African football analyst has questioned Orlando Pirates’ omission of Malawi National Football Team top striker Gabadinho Mhango from their lineups in the current DStv Premiership campaign.
Mhango has only 132 minutes of playing time in four appearances after falling out of favour at Pirates following his much-publicised off-field issues early in the season.
The former Nyasa Big Bullets star’s lack of game time also compelled Flames coach Meck Mwase to drop him from the team that completed World Cup qualifiers against Cameroon and Mozambique late last year.
Mhango was however considered for the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, where he has scored two goals in two group matches.
He also scored a goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win over Comoros in a warm-up match ahead of the continental showpiece.
The goal poacher’s impressive form has compelled footballer-turned-analyst Junior Khanye to lambast Pirates for omitting Mhango from their line-ups and match-day squads this season.
Khanye told soccerladuma.co.za that Mhango had always been a star and it was difficult to understand why he was not being given a chance at Pirates.
“I tend to argue a lot with people who disagree with me when I tell them that Mhango is one of the best forwards that we have in the league. When you bring an international player to the PSL [Premier Soccer League], this is the kind of quality that you should bring, a player like Mhango,” he is quoted as saying.
Khanye said Mhango was performing on a big stage against big guns and deserves a place in Pirates’ starting line-up.
“Mhango has balance, can kick with both feet, is talented, skillful and has got a big heart. He can play as a false number nine and can also play as a striker. He can play on the left and on the right as well as a centre forward, everywhere in that forward line.
“The boy is playing at a big stage at the moment with the big guns at Afcon but with Pirates in the DStv Premiership, he is not playing and that’s so disappointing and it doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Pirates’ website also acknowledged Mhango’s outstanding performance in Cameroon.
In a report titled ‘Mhango in Hot Form for Flames’, the website states that the Malawian was in scintillating form as he bagged a brace against Zimbabwe on Friday.
“With this victory, this generation of Malawians has registered the nation’s second only victory in an African Cup of Nations event—the last success coming in 2010 against Algeria,” the report reads.
Mhango said he continued working hard in training with the hope of proving his prowess once given the chance.
“My teammates have been pushing me despite not playing at club level. This has encouraged me to continue fighting. The year 2021 was not good in terms of performance and all.
“Every day I pull up my socks and I need to do better. 2022 is a new year and I need to start doing new things. There are a lot of things that happened in the past. But that is in the past and I need to look forward and do better,” he said.
Mhango remains the only player to have scored for Malawi at the continental showpiece.
After the heroic performance against Zimbabwe, he became the first and only player to have bagged a brace for the Flames in their three appearances at the competition’s finals.