Flames key defender Limbikani Mzava and striker Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango have been reduced to sideshows at South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) side Bloemfontein Celtic where they have not featured in four consecutive games.
Mzava and Gaba have not been featured after last month’s international calendar in which the Flames twice faced Algeria in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Mzava confirmed in a telephone interview yesterday that they have not made it into the team for the past four games.
“It is not something related to performance because even our colleagues from Botswana [Joel Mogorosi and Mogog Gabonamong] have also not featured since they returned from national duty almost the same time,” said Mzava.
“We never raised the issue, but the coach commented it yesterday, saying he did not want to disturb the rhythm since we had not been training with the team. Of course, I was not convinced, but I do not want to make an issue out of it,” he said.
But Mzava disclosed that he and Gabonamong are in the squad that travelled to Cape Town yesterday for this evening’s league match against Ajax Cape Town, but Gaba and Mogorosi are still sidelined.
“It is a worrisome situation, especially when you think you are doing well. But then the coach calls the shots and he knows what he is doing,” said Mzava.
Gaba, who has struggled this season both at club and international level, could not be reached for comment.
However, Celtic’s Malawian team manager John Maduka, said Mzava’s exclusion from the team has nothing to do with performance.
“But as for Gaba, he is still struggling and has been put on special training. After setting the bar high last season, he has had a difficult season so far. He needs to work extra hard. But he is still young and with guidance and counselling, he will pick up eventually,” said Maduka.
Flames assistant coach Jack Chamangwana said they also noted with concern that after the Algeria games, the two players were not being featured.
“We also raised the issue with John [Maduka] and he gave an assurance that things would be OK. I have watched Mzava play for their reserve side recently and he is doing very well, but our main worry is Gaba. He needs to pick himself up and regain confidence.
“These are key national team players and they are both young; hence, our concern when they are not playing,” said Chamangwana.
Gaba took the South African soccer scene by storm in his maiden season when he finished as runner-up top scorer, but has struggled this season and is yet to score.
Mzava and Gabadinho have missed games against Polokwane City (October 19), University of Pretoria (October 22), Maritzburg United (November 5) and Chippa United (November 23).
Flames captain Joseph Kamwendo also had a frustrating spell at Orlando Pirates where he started brightly.