Gabadinho Mhango has been shifted in playing position at South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) champions, Bidvest Wits, in a development the Malawian star striker hopes will increase his prospects of scoring in the new season, which kicks off next weekend.
“Of late, the coach [Gavin Hunt] has been featuring me in the number nine position, which is further upfront compared to last season when I was more of a number 11 [winger). Of course, playing in that position would increase scoring chances, but sometimes goals come naturally. You cannot force them,” Mhango said before yesterday’s MTN8 quarter-final game against Golden Arrows.
According to www. livestrong.com, “if you are in the number nine position [centre-forward], you hold the spot typically reserved for the most creative player on the team and its top goal scorer.”
Wits, who have lost winger Mogakolodi Ngele and striker Cuthberth Malajila to Mamelodi Sundowns following the expiry of their loan spells, have signed stars Steven Pienaar and Dalyon Claasen from TSV Munich in Germany and Sunderland (England), respectively.
Wits’ teenage striker Phumlani Mhlambi is also undergoing trials in Portugal, leaving Mhango, James Keene and Eleazar Rodgers as the main men upfront. The Flames’ man is, nonetheless, cautiously optimistic.
“Obviously, these are experienced players and they will bring competition to the team, so I need to work extra hard. I am sure this will be a successful season. I scored 11 goals in competitions last year, but I am not setting for myself any target this season,” Mhango said.
However, the arrival of Claasen and Pienaar poses stiff competition for another Malawian Gerald Phiri junior, who has rejoined the champions after a successful loan spell at Platinum Stars.
Phiri scored twice in some 18 appearances for Stars. South Africa-based Malawian sports journalist, Benjamin Nyirenda, expects Mhango to thrive this season and Phiri might struggle for game-time.
“Yes, Gaba still has a chance of playing [regularly] at Wits. The team hasn’t signed any [additional] striker this time, but they have also lost Malajila back to Sundowns. Mhlambi is also on the verge of a move to Portugal, so that leaves him [Mhango] and Rodgers as the main strikers. It is for this reason that Gaba stands more chances of playing than even last season,” said the Soccer Laduma magazine correspondent.
However, Mhango is hopeful that Phiri, his team-mate at Premier Division side Brave Warriors (now defunct) would excel at Wits, adding: “We always remind each other that we know where we are coming from and we should not lose sight of where we want to go.”
Mhango and Phiri are among six Malawian players in the PSL alongside Limbikani Mzava of Arrows, Robin Ngalande at Baroka FC, Atusaye Nyondo of Bloemfontein Celtic and Robert Ngámbi (Stars).