South African DStv Premiership side Orlando Pirates have extended Malawian forward Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango’s contract despite reports that they were set to release him.
The player’s agent Mike Makaab confirmed to South African online publication soccerladuma.co.za that the Buccaneers have exercised an extension option in his contract which was due to expire on June 30 2022.
“The club has exercised the option on Gaba,” the Prosport International chief executive officer was quoted as having said.
Makaab said the development means unless otherwise, the 29-year-old will remain at Pirates for the next two years.
Said Makaab: “He is back in the firing line. We’ve had a long discussion with him and he understands the importance of getting back to where he was.
“The option being exercised shows that there is still confidence in his ability.”
Mhango had not played in 12 matches for Pirates since August 24 until he made a few minutes’ cameo appearance in their win over Liberian outfit Oilers Monrovia in the CAF Confederation Cup two weeks ago.
His agent also confirmed he is firmly back in contention and currently with the Pirates squad in their mini bio-bubble confirmed by coach Mandla Ncikazi this week.
Said Makaab: “I just think he has had some off-the-field issues that were both in and out of his control. He understands that he’s really got to work hard and commit himself to his craft, if that happens I have little doubt that he will be back to where he was.
“One thing I will never hide from the players we represent is the disappointment in their lack of professionalism. And with social media you cannot hide anymore, you could do it before, but not at the level where it is today.
“Footballers and professional athletes are in the public eye all the time – if they cough, the world is going to know about it. Gaba is a sensible man, but even the most sensible of us tend to do things that are out of character.”
“What is most important is that he has an obligation towards his employer, and that’s Pirates. He’s got to roll his sleeves up and get back to where he was. That is the Gaba they signed, they never bought this Gaba, they got the one that was on fire [at Bidvest Wits] and we’ve got to get him back on fire.”
In an interview yesterday, Mhango said Pirates’ move to exercise an option on his contract has come as a timely boost.
He said: “It has been really tough for me in the recent past, but I never gave up hope and continued working hard.
“I guess the contract extension is somehow a vote of confidence in me. It means the club still values my contribution.”
The Flames striker was reduced to a sideshow at Pirates following controversies that were splashed in South African tabloids.