Malawi National Football Team striker Gabadinho Mhango’s dreams of playing in the final of the Caf Confederation Cup have gone up in smoke after his South Africa DStv Premier League side Orlando Pirates left him out of the squad for tonight’s showdown against Morocco’s RS Berkane in Uyo, Nigeria.
Pirates are appearing in their fourth continental final after defeating Libya’s Al Ahli Tripoli 2-1 on aggregate.
The Buccaneers’ coach Mandla Ncikazi announced names of members of his squad on Wednesday and Mhango’s name was conspicuously missing despite scoring during post-match penalties against Tanzanian side Simba in the quarterfinals.
Mhango said while it was his burning desire to play in the final, he understands that the coach has his own preferences.
“I haven’t travelled to Nigeria with the team and I don’t know why. I have continuously been sidelined from Pirates’ lineup since my return from the Afcon [Africa Cup of Nations] finals. But I appreciate that it is all to do with coach’s selection and I can only wish the team all the best. I remain confident that the team will bring the cup to South Africa,” he said.
Berkane made it into the final after defeating Democratic Republic of Congo giants TP Mazembe 4-2 over two legs.
The Moroccans won the 2019- 20 edition of the competition and tonight’s final will be their third.
Football pundit George Kaudza Masina said Mhango’s omission is not a surprising development as the former Nyasa Big Bullets goal poacher has never been in Pirates coaches’ plans this season.
“Gaba only featured in some games because of a public outcry. Despite being touted as a very good player, he is being disadvantaged because Pirates are performing well without him. This justifies the technical panel’s position. But this is bad for Gaba’s career,” Kaudza Masina said.
Mhango was a marvel to watch during the Afcon finals in Cameron as he helped the Flames reach the round-of-16 for the first time.
The Confederation Cup winner will take home $1.25 million in prize money in addition to playing in the Caf Super Cup against the Caf Champions League winner.
Egyptian giants Al Ahly will line up against Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca in the final of Africa’s elite club competition on May 30.