The message from Flames coach Kinnah Phiri to his local charges was clear: â€œGo out and shine and stand out to be countedâ€.
Big Bullets striker Gabadini Mhango did just that in the game against Zambia on Friday.
He came off the bench on his first home game for the Flames and put on an eye-catching display to inspire the Flames to beat Zambia 1-0 in a match which was part of the countryâ€™s 48th Independence Anniversary Celebrations.
The youngster, who is often guilty of missing clear chances at his Bullets, passed the ball at the right time and dribbled only when it was necessary.
His inclusion in the national team has been questioned by some quarters who feel he is still not yet ready for the big stage.
Â But Mhango proved his critics wrong when he played a big part in the build-up to Flamesâ€™ priceless goal scored by midfielder Joseph Kamwendo.
â€œIt just felt good to play in front of such a big crowd in national colours. I was nervous when the coach told me I would get in.
â€œBut I knew this was my chance and the right time to make my mark with the team. I am happy with my performance though it would have been nice to cap it all with a goal. This is just the beginning. I hope the coach will continue giving me chances,â€ he said.
Â The diminutive striker played beautiful double touch collaboration with John Banda, before the latter floated a cross which a Zambia defender miskicked and Mhango pounced on the loose ball into the six-yard-box, creating a ball scramble which left Kamwendo to hit into the net a rebound.
He was just unlucky not to score himself minutes later, when he found himself unmarked; and with only the goalkeeper at his mercy, he blasted the ball over the cross bar.
But his visionary runs, first touches, dribbles and passes were just classy. Unlike the bulk of the Flames strikers, he had the courage to face and take on the defenders. He gelled with Green Harawa upfront, but their heights and physical presence were the only stumbling block to unlock the highly disciplined Zambia defence marshalled by captain Nyambe Mulenga.
â€œI just need to work on my finishing. I must admit I am not doing well with my final touch,â€ he said.
Kinnah also spoke highly of the blossoming forward, saying he has a bright future.
â€œHe played according to instructions and he changed the game completely. We started pushing forward more and even got that goal because of Gabadini. He is doing fine considering that he has not played at any international level before,â€ said Kinnah. n