Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
HE may have struggled to announce his arrival at South African giants Orlando Pirates, but Zimbabwe international Kuda Mahachi is starting to make waves at the Buccaneers.
He may have rediscovered his touch in time to face compatriots FC Platinum in a CAF Champions League match at Barbourfields this Saturday after scoring two goals in his last two cameos.
Mahachi, who was largely anonymous since joining the Soweto giants six months ago, marked his return with two productive substitute appearances.
The 25-year-old apparently is still fighting to nail down a regular place in Milutin Sredojevic’s team but he opened his Premiership account in the 2-2 draw against Highlands Park at the weekend.
He then lit the Orlando Stadium on Tuesday night with a fantastic rising effort in the 4-2 win over Chippa United.
The win helped the Buccaneers to cut the gap between them and log leaders Bidvest Wits down to two points, ahead of the table-toppers’ clash against Kaizer Chiefs last night.
Mahachi’s performance in the last two games charmed his Serbian coach, Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic, who could be tempted to use him as his secret weapon in the Group B opener.
Sredojevic told South Africans he always had confidence in the diminutive forward.
“I met him four years back and we have played against each other. In between in his career, he came to us. It is not easy to switch from Golden Arrows to Pirates,’’ said Micho.
“He had . . . and I want to call it (a) breach period of six months. In between, something terrible happened to him because he lost his mom (Mahachi’s mother sadly passed away in December).
“All of us have been behind him.
“He has worked very hard, brought himself from suspicious Kuda to real Kuda. Real Kuda in the last two matches, two times 15 minutes and two goals scored, showing signs that he is the player that could make the difference.
“This is exactly the area where I spoke about widening the pool of players where whoever we are putting we’re still keeping the (same) level of performance. There are extremely positive signs in his performance and I want him to go and inject more because he is far from his best.’’
The former Uganda national team coach also wants to see Mahachi reclaiming his position in the Zimbabwe Warriors ahead of the final AFCON qualifiers against Congo-Brazzaville.
He has missed out in recent qualifiers because of lack of game-time at the club.
“We want him to give the best to Pirates because we know what he is capable of. He is far from his best yet.
“We want him to go back to his national team and to play in the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt in 2019,” he told Soccer Laduma.
But, ahead of the trip to Bulawayo, Sredojevic was a worried man.
While he was excited by their potency in front of goal, he feels there is a lot of work to be done with his “fragile” defence before they could face FC Platinum. The Buccaneers have now conceded five goals in their last three league matches.
He believes the Champions League is a totally different ball game which needs thorough preparation.
The Sea Robbers are expected in Bulawayo tomorrow.
“We need to look critically at ourselves, and we now have three days before flying to Bulawayo on Friday to play our first match in the CAF Champions League group stage.
“In two matches we have scored six goals, which is a good standard, but in the same moment we need to be fully aware that conceding four goals is something below any standard we should be conceding.
“This is a concern that we need to address, and we need to work as a team with every intention to keep clean sheets. We are having problems, we are not running away from that, and we shall address this in due time and improve,” he told KickOff.