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Robin Ngalande signs 18-month contract in Azerbaijan

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By Mabvuto Kambuwe:

On and off Malawi national football team forward Robin Ngalande’s return to Europe has been completed after signing an 18-month contract with Azerbaijan Premier League side Zira FC.

Ngalande made his debut in European football at the youth academy of Spanish giants Atletico Madrid after impressing while with South African side Mamelodi Sundowns’ reserve side at a youth tournament.

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But he returned to South Africa after failing to live up to his billing that saw some analysts comparing him to former Cameroon and Barcelona great Samuel Eto’o.

Ngalande signed the one-and-a-half year deal Wednesday having spent six months without a club after terminating his three-year deal with South Africa’s Absa Premier Soccer League side Baroka FC.

Ngalande’s manager, Paul Mitchell of Siyavuma Sports Group, confirmed that the forward has sealed a deal with the Baku-based side.

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“Robin is signing with Zira FC of Azerbaijan. He is excited to start playing football,” Mitchell said.

This means Ngalande and Taonga Chimodzi are the only Malawian players plying their trade in Europe. Chimodzi is in Cyprus.

Former Silver Strikers and Civil Sporting Club coach, Thom Mkorongo, said the European move is good for Ngalande’s career.

“This is good for Ngalande in particular and Malawi in general, as football standards in Europe are very high.I urge him to work hard so that he revives his football career,” Mkorongo said.

The former Civo United forward joined Mamelodi Sundowns Acamedy in 2009 before being spotted by Madrid a year later.

He spent two years with the Spanish club before returning to South Africa to join Bidvest Wits on a two-year loan deal.

Ngalande has also played for South African top league sides such as Platinum Stars and Ajax Cape Town.

Zira, also known as The Eagles, are based in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, and are on position eight in the country’s Premier League with 10 points from 14 games, 23 points behind leaders Neftchi.

Ngalande’s deal comes just a day after Flames and Be Forward Wanderers attacker Yamikani Chester left the country for a loan deal at North Carolina in the United States.

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