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.
Meanwhile, fellow co-coach Fadlu Davids has said there is an approach to selection that applies to all players.
Davids was again pushed to explained the continue omission of Mhango, who did not even feature on the bench for last weekend’s Soweto derby against Chiefs, with Pirates next set to face Marumo Gallants in the Nedbank Cup of Round of 16 on Wednesday.
“No, I don’t think it’s fair to talk about Gabadinho Mhango again, in relation to our strikers,” said Davids as quoted by Sowetan Live.
“And you talk about [Boitumelo] Radiopane, [Tshegofatso] Mabasa, Mhango, [Terrence] Dzvukamanja, [Zakhele] Lepasa and [Kwame] Peprah.
“At the moment Peprah has scored in the last match and it’s healthy competition. Lepasa, has done well whenever he has come on. Dzvukamanja in the last second of the derby should have scored. Mhango, Radiopane, Mabasa are working extremely hard to push and get themselves not only into the team but the starting line-up.
“In relation to team selection, there are various aspects you look at. First, are you coming to training? Are you punctual in relation to being at training, and not having disciplinary issues that take you out of training?
“Tick the first box. Then it’s in relation to your performance in training. How you exert yourself in training, how you perform. And then trying to find the right balance in the line-up. And coming back to my first point, that is about us finding the right possibilities now that we suddenly have [six strikers].
“In the first round we did not have Gabadinho Mhango, Mabasa was struggling with injuries, Lepasa was not available, Peprah was adapting to the SA game in relation to the physicality and style. Radiopane is having his first season in the PSL, and we’re integrating him in certain matches and seeing the huge potential he has.”
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.”