Tico-Tico heads United's latest signings

2008-08-19 00:00

MOZAMBICAN striker Manuel “Tico-Tico” Bucuane was the trump-card signing produced by Maritzburg United at a function last night to announce their new squad, as the club’s first season back in the Premier Soccer League approaches.

Bucuane is joined by two other signings — winger Tony Tsabedze from SuperSport United and Ivorian striker Brice Aka — as United coach Gordon Igesund bolsters his squad for what is shaping up to be a highly competitive PSL season.

At 34, Bucuane is something of a PSL legend, having played about 300 games for Jomo Cosmos, SuperSport and Orlando Pirates. He is Cosmos’s all-time top scorer with 88 goals, and only two away from breaking Daniel Mudau’s all-time record of 110 PSL goals.

After playing in six cup finals for SuperSport, Bucuane joined Pirates in early 2007, but injuries kept him out for most of last season, and when he returned, the striker was not used much by coach Owen da Gama.

The Mozambique captain showed in the recent Cosafa Cup that he still has much to offer, leading a development side to the final, where they lost 2-1 to South Africa.

The striker could not be at last night’s function at the city hall because he was on international duty.

Aka (25) spent the past year on the books of Moroccan giants Raja Casablanca and comes highly rated by Igesund, who says he has been impressed by the tall, strongly-built striker’s all-round quality.

Swazi left-wing Tsabedze (24) won his first PSL title with Gavin Hunt’s SuperSport last season, after picking up a host of cup medals under previous coach Pitso Mosimane.

On the attributes that the three bring to the team, Igesund said: “Tico-Tico is a very experienced player. He’s just had an outstanding Cosafa Cup, where he scored four goals and was player of the tournament.

“He plays very well with his back to goal and he is the type of professional player I enjoy working with.

“Brice is an outstanding player — he’s physically strong and skilful too. Tony is a very skilful winger and he’s exactly the type of player I want because we want to play fast, attacking, on-the-carpet football.”

Tsabedze, who shared the left wing at SuperSport with Daine Klate, said joining United presents a new challenge.

“Maritzburg have just qualified to play in the PSL and I think they are ambitious. They are also a team that have a good mix of youngsters and experience,” he said.

Igesund said he still might make two or three more quality signings in the coming week.

Asked if he is satisfied with the way his squad has taken shape, he said: “We are a week from our first game and I am still signing players.

“We started our preparations a month behind every other PSL team, so I have to be happy. But I think we have done well and we will be competitive.”

The arrival of Bucuane and Aka will take some of the goal-scoring pressure off last season’s NFD top scorer, Fadlu Davids, and add much-needed experience along with other new signings that include Bageta Dikilu, Gary Goldstone and Lebohang Kukame.

United’s first game is away against Ajax Cape Town on Wednesday next week.

United’s provisional 2008/09 PSL squad

Goalkeepers: Hunter Gilstrap, Athiel Mbaha, Tashreeq Goldman

Defenders: Bageta Dikilu, Gary Goldstone, Sylla Mbemba, Peter Petersen, Tshepo Mashishi, Oscar Mathebula

Midfielders: John Arwuah, Million Makhubela, Jeffrey Makoti, Lucky Maselesele, Lynch Pule, Junior Khanye, Tony Tsabedze, Sipho Mngomezulu

Strikers: Fadlu Davids, Brice Aka, Lebohang Kukame, Collen Zimba, Tico-Tico Bucuane.

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