Big up! Vice-President Saulos Chilima has paid tribute to South Africa-based forward Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango for becoming the first Malawian to win the Premier Soccer League Golden Boot Award.
The 27-year-old markman tied with Highlands Park Namibia forward Peter Shalulile on 16 goals and stands to pocket R25 000 (about K1.2 million).
A statement released by the Office of the Vice-President yesterday stated that the achievement is not only for Mhango, but for the country as well.
Stated the Vice-President: “He must keep on working hard and dreaming big. The sky is the limit.”
In an interview from his Johannesburg base yesterday, Mhango said he felt honoured that his feat has been acknowledged by the Vice-President.
He said: “Serious?… Well it means a lot to me and I thank him for recognising my achievement.”
The Buccaneers hitman opened up on his recent goal drought, admitting that it was not easy for him to turn the corner.
“Even when the chips were down, I kept my head up. It was not easy though and there were times I felt really bad.”
He, however, acknowledges the role his team-mates played.
“My coach and my teammates were very supportive and kept on encouraging me not to lose hope.
“I told myself that I had to fight on to the very end and when I scored the lone goal against Maritzburg United, I knew it could be the turning point.
“But I also knew that the last game would be decisive because all the contenders, especially Shalulile would be out to score,” he said.
The Flames striker, who scored the 16th goals in Pirates’ last match against Stellenbosch, was also a model of modesty, saying he is more excited to have helped his team finish third than the individual honour.
“The club comes first always and it makes me happy that we are going to participate in the CAF Confederation Cup and that’s what is important,” he said
Mhango’s compatriot Esau Kanyenda missed the award by a whisker during the 2002 season when he finished second with 18 goals in 28 starts in his first season—just a goal shy of the eventual winner Gilbert Mushangazhike of Manning Rangers.