It just had to be. South Africa-based Flames talisman Gabadinho Mhango’s stunner against the Atlas Lions of Morocco at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Cameroon in January, has been nominated for the 2022 CAF Awards Goal of the Year.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Thursday evening announced 10 goals which have made the cut.
Seventy percent of the winning goal will be determined through fans’ votes on http://cafawards2022goty.com and the 29-year-old has since appealed to Malawians to vote for his goal.
In an interview yesterday, the AmaZulu FC forward said he was thrilled to make the short-list.
He said: “The recognition means a lot to me, but I am hoping that I can get the award.
“I am so excited, it’s amazing to be among the nominees. Let me also appreciate the role that the coaches and team-mates made to enable me to score that goal.
“I am just urging Malawians to vote for the goal because it is their goal.”
Flames coach Mario Marinica said it is exciting that Mhango’s goal has been shortlisted.
He said: “It would be even more fantastic for Gaba and Malawi football if he wins the award.
“It deserved recognition as we worked on it prior to the match, then Gaba had the skill to execute if to perfection.”
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said Mhango’s goal was by far the best at the Afcon tournament “judging from the distance, velocity, angle and execution”.
He said: “I appeal to the fans to vote en masse so that Gaba should stand a chance of winning.”
Flames legend and former coach Ernest Mtawali said it is not surprising that the goal has been nominated for the award.
He said: “It was a beauty and let’s all vote for him, he deserves ir.”
Although the Flames lost that match 2-1 to bow out of the African football safari, Mhango basked in the global limelight with some media outlets of repute pitting his 40-metre fabulous strike as the goal of the tournament.
His flirtation with the continental showpiece touched new dizzying heights at Ahmadou Stadium in Yaounde.
The former Orlando Pirates and Bidvest Wits striker was feted like a king by a football world hungrty for goals of the archives.
The beauty of it lay in the execution, the way he curled a sweet right foot shot with precision, was a wonder to behold and the Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou could not help, but watch starry-eyed.
There was no hint of nerves, no panic just the stuff that dreams are made of.
SkySports screamed in its headline: “That’s unbelievable! Malawi’s 40-yard wonder goal.”
British tabloid, The Sun‘s report read in part: “Mhango scores a goal you have never seen at the tournament, while part of the Irish Sun‘s report, read: “Gabadinho Mhango swerved an outrageous 40-yard opener as minnows Malawi went down fighting at Afcon.
“The Orlando Pirates striker scored a goal any player would be proud of. It was the latest and greatest moment of high drama at an eventful tournament.”
Another popular British publication, The Guardian, reported in part: “Gabadinho Mhango put underdogs Malawi ahead with a long-range jaw-dropper.”
Yet another Brish tabloid, The Daily Mail also waxed lyrical about the Flames star: “Malawi went ahead early after a world-class goal from Frank Mhango, who hit a speculative right-footed effort from some 40 metres out and watched in delight as the swerving ball caught out Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bonou and crashed into the top corner of the net.”
Only two goals from the 2021 Afcon finals have been nominated, the other scored by Comoros’ Youssof M’changama agaist Cameroon.
Mhango finished as third top scorer at the tournament with three goals.