Malawian striker Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango on Saturday powered Orlando Pirates to second position in the South Africa’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) after claiming a brace in a 2-1 win over Chippa United.
The double saw the talismanic forward creating a four-goal gap at the summit of the leading scorers chart.
He took his tally to 14, four goals ahead of his closest chasers—Samir Nurkovic (Kaizer Chiefs), Bradley Grobler (SuperSport United) and Bongi Ntuli (AmaZulu FC).
Pirates now have 36 points from 20 games, nine adrift of leaders and rivals Kaizer Chiefs, who have a game in hand.
In a match monitored on Digital Satellite Television’s (DStv) SuperSport channel, Mhango drew first blood in the 12th minute through a penalty awarded for a foul on Innocent Maela.
There was a cathedral-hush silence in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth as the Absa Premirship leading scorer stepped up for the spot-kick.
He clipped the ball with the deftest of touches, to give it flight and just enough power, for it to nestle into the right side of Chippa’s goaltender Veli Mothwa.
There was no margin of error, no panic from a striker soaring with confidence.
He doubled the lead eight minutes later with delightful ease, pouncing on a loose ball before creating a pocket of space for himself to score with a low shot. It appeared all simple, but it wasn’t.
Chippa reduced the deficit in the 29th minute through Augustine Kwem.
Mhango was denied a hat-trick on the half-hour mark when his trademark run saw him facing an advancing ‘keeper Mothwa, who kept out his effort.
In an interview yesterday, Mhango said with an ounce of luck, he could have scored more.
“It could have been three or even four, but it just wasn’t to be. But all the same I am happy to have scored two.
“I think what is more important though is that as a team our resurgence is on the right track,” he said.
This was Pirates’ fifth successive league win and it increased their unbeaten run to nine matches.
Elsewhere, Limbikani ‘Pupa’ Mzava’s Highlands Park saw off his compatriots Gerald Phiri Jnr and Richard Mbulu’s Baroka FC 1-0.
Mzava and Phiri played a full game while Mbulu was thrown in as a substitute in the 63rd minute.
Highlands are now eighth in the 16-team league with 26 points from 20 matches while Baroka are 13th with 20 points from 21 matches.