Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango accorded his new Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer a hearty welcome when he scored a brace as the Bucaneeers saw off Black Leopards 3-1 in a South African Premier Soccer League match in Soweto on Saturday.
The German coach could also not have asked for a better Christmas gift in his first match in charge.
The brace took Mhango’s tally to six, three goals short of the league’s leading scorer Peter Shalulile of Highlands Park as Pirates moved to fifth in the 16-team league standings with 20 points from 14 matches.
They are, however, 14 points behind leaders and arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs, who have a one-game cushion.
In an interview from his Johannesburg base yesterday, Mhango said he was delighted to have made an impression on his new coach’s debut.
“We needed to win to send a message to our new coach about our capability.
“First impressions are crucial when you have a new coach,” said the 27-year-old Malawian forward.
In a match monitored on Digital Satellite Television (DStv) SuperSport channel, Mhango scored both goals in the second half.
His first came on the hour mark when the two teams were tied one-all.
The beauty of it lay in the angle, difficult in normal circumstances, but as he has done before, Mhango denied the acute position to fire a low shot past helpless Leopards’ ‘keeper Jonas Mende.
Twelve minutes later, he was on the score-sheet again, this time through a penalty awarded after Mende fouled him in the goal area.
Mhango stepped up to coolly slot the ball home. No panic, no fuss.
Innocent Maela gave Pirates a first-half lead which was cancelled by Mwape Musonda before Mhango claimed his brace.
Leopards also had, in their fold, veteran Malawian midfielder Robert ‘Baggio’ Ng’ambi.
Elsewhere, Flames captain Limbikani Mzava played a full game for Highlands Park when they beat his former team Golden Arrows 2-0.