Malawi National Football Team defender Charles Petro is set to brush shoulders with some of the world’s best footballers after his team Sheriff Tiraspol became the first Moldovan side to qualify for the Uefa Champions League group stages.
Sheriff made it at the expense of Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb after forcing a barren draw to go through 3-0 on aggregate.
Petro described the qualification as a milestone both for him personally and his team.
“I am excited that I will have a chance to play in a competition that is watched all over the world. I never imagined that I would play in such a big competition one day. I can only thank God for seeing us through. We will continue to work together as a team so that we achieve our goals,” he said.
Flames coach Meck Mwase congratulated Petro for the achievement.
“Petro will go a long way if he remains focused. He is a humble young man who is ready to learn all the time. We are proud of his achievement and we wish him more success. It is an honour to have one of our players competing in the Champions League group stages,” Mwase said.
Petro’s former club Nyasa Big Bullets has also hailed the youthful player, describing his feat as inspiring.
Bullets Chief Administrative Officer Albert Chigoga said they expected other players to learn from Petro’s discipline and fighting spirit.
“This is proof that hard work pays. Petro was a lower league player in the country some three years ago but, today, he is a Uefa Champions League player. This is what we want our players to aspire for at Bullets. We are happy for him and we wish him all the best,” Chigoga said.
Another Malawian player who has plied his trade in Europe before, Essau Kanyenda, said Petro is the first player from the country to go this far in a top competition.
“I almost made it to the group stages while playing for Lokomotiv Moscow in Russia but we were relegated to the Europa League after losing. So Petro should be commended for his achievement.
“This is his chance to prove to the whole world that he is a top player. At this stage, the competition has numerous agents monitoring players and he should give out his best each time he gets a chance to play,” Kanyenda said.
Petro signed for Sheriff just after playing for Bullets for a season from Bullets Reserves.
In his debut season, he helped Bullets lift the TNM Super League title and was named best defender.
During the same period, he managed to cement a place in the Flames’ backline.
Peter Fote is a Sports Journalist with huge experience in radio and Television reporting, production and presentation. He once worked with Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and is currently working for Times Media Group.