Flames coach Ernest Mtawali has hinted at recalling injury-plagued striker Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango for next week’s 2018 World Cup preliminary qualifier against Tanzania’s Taifa Stars in Dar es Salaam.
The development follows South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) side Bloemfontein Celtic’s confirmation that Mhango has been declared fit to return to full-scale action.
Celtic team manager John Maduka said on Monday in an interview from South Africa that Mhango is currently playing for the reserve side so as to gain match fitness.
“The boy has fully recovered now, he is 100 percent fine. The only challenge for now could be match fitness; otherwise, he is catching up and was impressive for the reserve side against Orlando Pirates,” said the former Flames captain.
Asked if he would recommend the player for the Tanzania match, Maduka cautiously responded: “I think there should be no problems, but then there should not be an awful lot expectation from him.”
Mtawali said with the injury of hitman Chiukepo Msowoya, he is being tempted to consider Mhango.
“I have already had a chat with him [Mhango] regarding his progress and the Tanzania game and I was impressed with the keenness that he has shown to return.
“The boy is a natural finisher and with Chiukepo out with injury, it could be a timely solace, but we’ll have to exercise caution and follow his progress closely before making a final decision,” said Mtawali.
The player himself said in an interview yesterday that he is set for Flames return.
“I enjoyed my game against Pirates Reserves and although I didn’t score, I was satisfied with my performance. I can’t wait to return to the national team and I have already been in touch with the coach. I am available,” he said.
Mhango, who was once hailed as Malawi’s brightest football prospect, last played for the Flames over a year ago in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations’ qualifiers.
He suffered a groin injury that saw him miss the Cosafa Cup in June last year as well as the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Zimbabwe’s Warriors and Swaziland’s Sihlangu Semnikati this year after undergoing surgery twice.
Mhango last scored for the Flames against Chad in a 2015 Afcon preliminary qualifier in May last year when he scored both goals in a 2-0 victory.
Meanwhile, midfielder Micium Mhone made his debut for PSL side Jomo Cosmos as a second-half substitute against Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday which Cosmos lost 0-2.
Mhone was introduced in the 77th minute and his performance was satisfactory.