Waiting game set to continue for Pirates’ Mhango … here’s why

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Mhango has been conspicuous by his absence from regular action at the Buccaneers, especially considering how the striker had impressed for Malawi at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

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The 29-year-old enjoyed an unforgettable debut season at Pirates, and was one of the standouts for Malawi at the recent Afcon event, but that has not led to automatic selection on his return to the Buccaneers.

After a recent Nedbank Cup clash, Pirates co-coach Mandla Ncikazi controversially suggested the DStv Premiership is “bigger” than Afcon after explaining the omission of Mhango.

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Meanwhile, fellow co-coach Fadlu Davids says there is an approach to selection that applies to all players.

“I don’t like to talk about single players, I think we treat all of our 36 players the same and definitely not only Mhango but also Tshegofatso Mabasa, Boitomelo Radiopane that’s scoring every week and looking at us [thinking] ‘hey when am I going to get an opportunity’,” Davids said ahead of the Soweto derby against Chiefs, as quoted by iDiski Times.

“But it’s about managing the squad. Yes as you saw in the last couple of matches he’s been in the squad and that’s only a signal of his performances in training so that’s definitely put him a step closer and fighting for a place. 

“So is Mabasa, Radiopane and that competition is strong. So far Mhango has the nod in the last few matches ahead of Mabasa and Radiopane but they are working hard, pushing fighting, [Zakhele] Lepasa and [Kwame] Peprah are also doing well in the squad…

“It’s competition throughout the squad so I can’t send a signal to one player only but to the entire squad to work hard and be ready because opportunity can come at any moment.”

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There have been some calls for Mhango to consider leaving Pirates

Malawi assistant coach Meck Mwase responded to the comments from Ncikazi by suggesting Mhango should eye a transfer away from the club.

“He must not challenge the coach but continue working hard,” Mwase told Malawi Times. “It will be good if he can switch teams. It is unfortunate that the coach is belittling Afcon when South Africa didn’t qualify.”

These views were echoed by Malawi’s National Coaches Association Chairperson Aubrey Nankhuni.

“It just shows that some officials do not want him at Pirates. This was a time to get the best out of him,” Nankhuni said.

“The best Gaba [Mhango] can do is to continue working hard and, at the same time, request his manager to secure him a move, even if it be a loan move.”

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