Flames’ forward Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango has become the first Malawian footballer to win the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) title in 12 seasons.
This comes after his club Bidvest Wits on Wednesday evening basked in the ultimate glory with a game in hand on Wednesday evening following a 2-0 home triumph over Polokwane City.
Wits are at the summit of the 16-team log table with 60 points from 29 games while last year’s champions Mamelodi Sundowns are second with 56 points.
They will be crowned champions on May 27 when they face Kaizer Chiefs in their last league match.
Before Gaba’s success, former Flames defender Patrick Mabedi was the last Malawian player to win the PSL championship with Kaizer Chiefs in the 2004/05 season.
But, overall, 23-year-old Mhango is the sixth Malawian player to win the title in the highest division of the South African football league system since the local footballers started playing professional football in the Rainbow Nation in the early 1980s.
The other players that achieved a similar feat are Jack Chamangwana and Mathews Phiri (with Kaizer Chiefs in 1989), Chancy ‘Vinnie’ Gondwe (with Mamelodi Sundowns in 1994), Ernest Mtawali (with Orlando Pirates in 2000-01 and 2002-03 seasons) and Mabedi (with Kaizer Chiefs in 2003-04 and 2004-05).
Although Gaba warmed the bench for the fourth consecutive match, he expressed delight for joining the list of Malawian legends that have won the championship in the foreign land.
The prolific striker made a big contribution to Wits’ first-ever league title after top-scoring for his club with nine goals that puts him third on the top-scorers’ table with nine goals—four behind leading scorer Lebogang Manyama of Cape Town City.
Gaba, who has so far scored 11 goals in all competitions, said he was over the moon for his team’s success.
“To me, winning the league title with a foreign club was the most exciting achievement I have ever dreamed of. It feels great to see my dreams coming into reality,” said the former Nyasa Big Bullets striker.
Flames legends Gondwe and Chamangwana hailed Gaba for achieving the rare feat.
Said Gondwe: “I will not be surprised if a big team from Europe hunts for his signature next season. He is a good player and he has reminded me of my glorious days with Sundowns.”
Chamangwana said: “It took me a number of seasons of playing for Chiefs to win the title, but Gaba has done it within a season of playing for Wits. I feel proud of him.”
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) competitions manager Gomezgani Zakazaka said Gaba’s success vindicates his wise decision to dump Bloemfontein Celtic, which reduced him to a side show last season.
However, soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda has advised Gaba not to sit on his laurels but rather work extra hard so as to stay on top of his game in the foreign league, where relaxation is a recipe for players’ downfall. n