Pirates coach’s Malawian star snub raises eyebrows

South Africa’s top league team Orlando Pirates coach Mandla Ncikazi has come under fire for snubbing Malawian star Gabadinho Mhango in the team’s game against AmaZulu in the Nedbank Cup on Sunday.

Orlando Pirates beat South African legend Benn McCarthy team AmaZulu 1-0.

Gabadinho Mhango: snubbed

In an article carried by Kickoff.com, Ncikazi is quoted as saying DStv Premier League is “bigger” than Afcon, in reference to the Malawian star’s sensational performance in which he scored three goals, including the wonder goal against Morocco in the round of 16.Kickoff.com described the coach’s comments as weird.

“Mandla Ncikazi has provided a bizarre reason behind Gabadinho Mhango’s latest exclusion from the Orlando Pirates squad. A notable absentee during the Buccaneers’ victory was striker Gabadinho Mhango, who was not included in the matchday squad despite impressing for Malawi at the recently-concluded Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon,” reads the article.

One of the fan blamed the coach, saying it shows that he does not like Mhango.

Mandla Ncikazi omments by Mcikazi are showing his bias against Mhango,” he said.

Another fans also said: ”This one is an enemy to reality. Judging by his utterances, I won’t be shocked if he was telling his players that they are having the season of their lives and are firm favourites to win everything left to win.”

Orlando Pirates opened their account in the Nedbank Cup with a narrow 1-0 win over AmaZulu in the Round of 32 on Sunday, courtesy of a solitary goal from Namibia international, Deon Hotto.

The 29-year-old netted three times in the competition as his country reached the Round of 16 but his performances on the continent were not enough to earn him a starting berth upon his return to club action with Pirates.

“Pirates are a big team,” coach Ncikazi said, when asked about Mhango’s exclusion. “You’ve got strikers, Mhango being one of them, you’ve got [Zakhele] Lepasa, you’ve got [Tshegofatso] Mabasa who was not part of the team, you have [Kwame] Peprah, so it is a galaxy of strikers.

“Maybe the choice, with respect, the choice at Pirates [was to consider] players who have been preparing for the past weeks whereas Mhango just came back. We know he is a good player so it’s not because anything is wrong with him, it’s just competition.

“Currently, we chose to go with Peprah and Lepasa. He will get his opportunity in due course, he just has to work hard like other players. Mabasa was not part of the team, he couldn’t make the 20 despite being a top player, being a player who is part of the national team.

“So, Mhango will wait like all other players. We recognise and acknowledge his performance at the Afcon but maybe the league in South Africa is bigger than the Afcon, but that is a question for another day.”

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