Luso Legends: Manuel ‘Tico-Tico’ Bucuane

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Luso Legends: tico tico

He is regarded as the best player from Mozambique to play in South Africa’s top flight football, the Premier Soccer League, since it began in 1996/97.

Besides starring for Jomo Cosmos where he won the Coca-Cola Cup and SAA Supa 8, Tico-Tico also played for Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United later in his PSL career and is regarded as one of the top 10 foreigners ever to play in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League.

Tico-Tico made over 80 appearances for Mozambique’s national side and also had stints playing in Portugal, America and China in a career spanning 19 years.

Maglia-Tico-Tico
L’eterna maglia n°9 di Tico-Tico. Image Source: paneecalcio.com

Tico-Tico, you are regarded as one of the top foreign players ever to play in the PSL. What was your secret to adapting to life in South Africa when you joined Jomo Cosmos back in 1996?

It wasn’t easy for me because the structure of the club was totally different because I was coming from a big club in Mozambique with different people running different departments. Then I came to a club with one man running everything (laughing) … it was a bit of a shock you know because everything had to go through Jomo (Sono)!

In the beginning I got sick and had an injury. The first six months I really wanted to go back home and I remember crying, but my family supported me and told me to stick it out because I wanted to play outside of Mozambique.

How did it happen that you signed for Cosmos?

I was actually in Portugal before Cosmos, but I got an injury and I was supposed to have a knee operation. I decided to hold off on it and first play for my country in the 1996 Africa Nations Cup. I did that and this is where Jomo saw me.

He spoke to my club and then I came here. I went to the doctor with Cosmos and he told me the injury was not that serious … so I recovered and that was that. But I had never seen South Africa as a destination because of apartheid and those things, so it was very new to me. It just happened so quickly and I was happy with that. Look, Jomo was prepared to take me with an injury and I always respect him for that.

You won some trophies at your time with Cosmos, did Jomo Sono give you some good bonuses?

Yes we won the Coca Cola and SAA Supa 8 cups. We knew the only way we could make money was to win the cup. We knew the bonus would be shared amongst the players. You remember the previous season we lost the Coca Cola Cup 5-0 to Chiefs, they killed us! And that was the worst thing to happen to us – we were looking for somewhere to hide.

You also beat Kaizer Chiefs in a cup final…

Jomo-Cosmos-striker-Manuel-Tico-Tico
Jomo Cosmos striker Manuel ‘Tico-Tico’ Bucuane will stage a benefit match following his retirement. Image Source: kickoff.com

Yeah, the following year we went to the same stadium, the same scenario and the same opposition but we beat them 1-0 thanks to my goal. The goal was so fast that nobody noticed there was anything wrong. No players or supporters even noticed, but later on TV we saw that it was offside. But it was a beautiful goal and it was elected goal of the tournament!

Tell us about the muti because often Cosmos were known to use muti. 

It’s like they will fill the bathtub with stuff … I don’t know what things! And you had to go inside the water the night before the game and sleep like that without washing it off. And through the following day (Laughing). It was usually our team manager who handled this, not Jomo, he never got involved.

But I remember one time we had two muti men on one night. So, this was crazy. If you believe on one then you believe in one – you don’t bring two. Now you have two different mutis, but maybe they wanted to make us double strong I don’t know ha ha ha! It was crazy and Jomo will kill me for this now…

Your toughest PSL opponent was?

There were so many great defenders, but Cyril Nzama was always kicking me and was tough to play against. He wasn’t fair when he played against me.

Player you combined with best in the PSL?

I played with so many, but the players I really combined with well were Tebogo Mokoena at Cosmos, Teko Modise who I played with at SuperSport United and Benedict Vilakazi at my time with Orlando Pirates. These are just some of the guys that I would combine with nicely.

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