Red-hot forward Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango has expressed delight with his impressive return to Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday when he scored both goals as the Flames scorched Chad Sao.
The win secured for the Flames a supposedly less daunting task in the return leg of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations second preliminary round.
Gabadinho last featured for the Flames at home on June 13, when he was thrown in as a substitute against Kenya’s Harambee Stars in a 2014 World Cup qualifier which ended 2-all.
“To be honest, I feel relieved because I had only scored one goal going into this match [against Namibia’s Brave Warriors] and I was under pressure.
“So, yes, now I feel some pressure off and I look forward to scoring more goals for the national team. It felt really good making a return to Kamuzu Stadium and the vibe from the stand was terrific. The crowd was great and it made a huge difference,” said Gabadinho after Saturday’s game.
The 22-year-old forward said it feels good for a player to translate club form to the national team.
“When you are performing well at club level, there is always huge expectation from the fans and coaches for you to translate to the national team because if you don’t, then questions are raised about your commitment to national cause,” he said.
The South Africa-based forward was also an image of modesty, dismissing suggestions that he was the centrepiece of Flames’ victory.
“It would be unfair to my colleagues to single me out for the win. It was all down to team-work.
“Look at the effort that Joseph [Kamwendo] made from that beautiful free kick which I finished from the rebound! As a striker, I am supposed to lay in wait for such moments. I am still in the learning process and I realise that once I lose that hunger, then I will be gone,” he said.
The Bloemfontein Celtic star struck the first goal in the sixth minute when he pounced on a rebound from Kamwendo’s free-kick that hit the crossbar.
He was on target again in the 74th minute, this time capitalising on a defensive lapse by Chad towering centre back Kelvin Jatila.
Gabadinho took the ball outside the opponents’ box, gave it a deft touch with his right foot and beat a defender who was pursuing him.
But there was still too much to do, as he stormed towards the 18-yard box, another touch, this time shifting the angle as he dinked to his right, and a devastating change of pace, somehow managing to maintain his balance, swept him past the next defender and, in a blink of an eye, the mesmerising forward had eliminated the last in-field defensive shield and opened a pocket of space for himself down the right.
Suddenly, he was clear on goal, with only keeper Dillah Mbiramadji to beat and, as the Sao goalminder advanced in an attempt to narrow his angle, Gabadinho still had the presence of mind to lift the ball over the huge hurdle and it caressed a part of the keeper as it sailed into the corner for a superb individual goal.
That he could find his magic to weave his way past that defensive wall, at such pace, and then end it all with a beauty of a goal, was sheer quality.