All in the system: Mhango explains his explosive form at Orlando Pirates

Gabadinho Mhango of Orlando Pirates says he is banging in goals because his position allows him to stay close to the net.
Gabadinho Mhango of Orlando Pirates says he is banging in goals because his position allows him to stay close to the net.
Image: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images

Gabadinho Mhango has explained his explosive scoring form, saying the system employed by new Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer, including a switch from deeper roles to centre-forward, helps him to stay “close to goal”.

Mhango returns from the suspension that kept him out of Sunday’s penalties defeat against Bidvest Wits at Orlando Stadium when Pirates, in second place in the Absa Premiership, travel to meet Black Leopards at Thohoyandou Stadium on Sunday.

The Malawian was asked, after winning the Premiership’s Player of the Month Award for January this week, to explain the explosive form that has seen him score nine goals in seven matches since Zinnbauer’s arrival in December.

Mhango had become know for his pace and shooting power as much as his inconsistency. His most consistent season previously was when he scored nine goals helping Bidvest Wits win the Absa Premiership in 2016-17.

The forward had shown promise, though sporadically again, arriving for a big move from Wits to Pirates this season, scoring five times in his first 11 league games at Bucs.

Previously played as a deep striker or out wide, Mhango believes his explosion of goals in his last seven games stems from a switch to centre-forward, which allows him to stay more advanced, as a predator waiting to use his pace upfront to wreak havoc.

“I think it’s the system we’ve played up until now. It’s a system that I love to play because it’s one where I play close to the goal,” Mhango said.

“It’s not one where I need to go all the way back. I’m just around the box, so that’s why maybe I am in the game.”

Mhango said he has defensive duties at centre-forward, but also more freedom to stay high up the field more.

“Obviously firstly we need to defend for the team. We all track back, we all attack,” he said.

“But for me I think it [my positioning] is very close to the goal. Because I know where the goal is. Sometimes I don’t need to see where the goal is because I know.”

Pirates have Mhango back, but another in-form performer – influential central midfielder Fortune Makaringe – suspended against 14th-placed Leopards.

PSL this weekend -


Stellenbosch FC v SuperSport United (Cape Town Stadium, 8pm)


Baroka FC v Bidvest Wits (Peter Mokaba Stadium, 3.30pm)

Mamelodi Sundowns v Chippa United (Loftus Versfeld Stadium, 3.30pm)           

Highlands Park v Bloemfontein Celtic (Makhulong Stadium, 3.30pm)

Kaizer Chiefs v Maritzburg United (FNB Stadium, 6pm)

AmaZulu v Lamontville Golden Arrows (Kings Park, 8.15pm)


Black Leopards v Orlando Pirates (Thohoyandou Stadium, 3.30pm)

Polokwane City v Cape Town City (Old Peter Mokaba Stadium, 3.30pm)

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