Luis Miquissone left South Africa with his tail in between his legs just a little over a year ago! Talented as he is.
The boy had built a reputation in Moçambola as a proven goal scorer off the left side of UD Songo’s attack. Enough to earn him a place in the national team alongside the likes of Elias Pelembe, one of the most successful foreign players in PSL history.
His arrival at Chloorkop, as a 22-year-old came on the back of a successful season in his native country in which he won the 2017 Golden Boot award and a League title with UD Songo.
In fact, when ‘Tico Tico’ [Manuel José Luís Bucuane] bumped into Pitso Mosimane at the OR Tambo International Airport the previous year in 2016, he was so convinced Miquissone was the answer to his question.
Ever-hungry to win trophies and continually refine his squad, Mosimane, who was head coach of Mamelodi Sundowns at the time, was looking for a forward in the mould of Tico Tico. Who else could he ask, other than the man revered for being the only non-South African to have reached 100 PSL goals in the modern day PSL era?
“In one of my many trips to South Africa, I bumped into Pitso and he asked me for a striker like myself, but I had long stopped playing,” Tico Tico tells FARPost from his Maputo base.
Tico, who played under Mosimane at SuperSport United, was the Rolls Royce of forwards. He oozed class and elegance. So slippery was he that he often sliced through the most compact of defences like a hot knife through butter.
Perhaps offering Mosimane the boy – Miquissone – may have been a bit of an ill turn to both ‘Jingles’ and the player.
It raised an expectation for the Kagiso-born mentor. An expectation a budding footballer could not instantaneously meet.
After all, the former Bafana Bafana coach was looking for a striker in the likeness of a man who sunk in a remarkable 108 PSL goals by the time he was done with business in the domestic League.
Yet he thought Miquissone was somewhat his heir apparent. Even the legendary Jomo Sono will tell you – there can only be one Tico.
“He was doing very well, it was just a matter of time for him to get established. He was the top goal scorer in the Mozambican League,” says Tico, Mozambique’s most capped player (94 appearances) and top scorer (30 goals).
The former Jomo Cosmos forward was sporting director at UD Songo at the time. “I was the sports director at Songo and I’m the one who spoke to Pitso to give him a chance.”
But, what ‘The Mambas’ winger was not made aware of was that there was the famous CBD at Sundowns.
The CBD unit, made up of Leonardo Castro, Khama Billiat and Keagan Dolly, was on song. They were arguably the most feared and most consistent front three in the PSL. That was when Billiat was in the form of his life, Dolly unstoppable and Castro lethal in front of goals.
During the 2015/16 season, their combined 25 League goals fired Downs to the league title before the trio went on to help the club to the 2016 Caf Champions League crown.
Undoubtedly, there was no place in the Brazilians’ front three. Nonetheless, Sundowns sent their scouts to go watch Miquissone in Nampula, in north-eastern Mozambique, where his team was playing.
“Sundowns came to watch the boy and from there they followed him,” Tico says. The Brazilians then got a closer look at the 2017 Cosafa Cup tournament.
Of course, it was not the best of performances, but they were impressed. A recommendation was made that he be invited for a trial at Chloorkop.
There was a bit of hope for him. Dolly had already left for French side Montpellier HSC in January of 2017.
Eventually, Downs signed him at the end of 2017 but he failed to register a single appearance for the Tshwane giants, while loan stints to Chippa United and the now-defunct Royal Eagles proved equally frustrating for the Tete-born star.
“Pitso signed me from UD Songo to Sundowns, after that they didn’t give me any chance, they just told me no we’re going to loan you,” Miquissone is on record as saying.
Of course, Miquissone was aware he wouldn’t immediately hit top gear and start playing every game. But, all he wanted was a chance to prove himself.
“They never gave me any chance and you know football is about minutes, it’s about chances to see me on the field you know. I didn’t get any chance at Sundowns.
“You can’t believe they sent me to these small teams like that and they didn’t even give me a chance. But there I was still getting call-ups to the national team and when I got back, they still didn’t play me.”
In the 2018 Cosafa Cup, an action-starved Miquissone was on fire, scoring four goals in three matches including a brace against Comoros.
Yet there was frustratingly no action for him at Chippa and Eagles. “I just didn’t understand but you know that’s football. We need to respect the decisions of coaches, I’m a player and it’s my job, so I can’t say much more.”
The 25-year-old went on to secure a loan back to UD Songo in 2019 where he finished as the second-highest scorer in the league in another title-winning campaign.
That same year, his solitary goal sent Tanzanian giants Simba packing out of the Caf Champions League.
“They saw him in the Champions League and they liked him. So they started negotiations with him, that’s how he came here,” Tanzanian football journalist, Ramadhani Juma, tells FARPost.
After joining the Dar es Salaam-based outfit, he hit the ground running, quickly establishing himself as one of the League’s top players.
“It didn’t take him too long to start performing, you could see he was a top player from the onset. Of course, the Leagues are different, but maybe he needed a chance [at Sundowns],” says Juma.
That failed stint at Downs may have spurred him on. The man has since developed into one of Africa’s leading forwards since joining Simba and has thrived in both the domestic and continental competitions for the Tanzanian giants.
On the domestic front, he has scored seven goals this season and made several assists as ‘Wekundu Wa Msimbazi’ are on the verge of retaining the Tanzania League title.
In the continental game, he leads the scorers’ chats with three goals and two assists in 10 outings.
On the other hand, he has scored four for his country in 27 outings. Interestingly, when Mosimane guided Al Ahly in the Caf Champions League against Simba, Miquissone was a thorn in the flesh to the African champions’ defence.
He played with the same swagger he displays when playing on the domestic scene. Simba beat Ahly 1-0 at home, courtesy of a Miquissone wonder strike.
After that first leg encounter, the talented winger, who has drawn comparisons with Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi, was seen talking to Mosimane.
“I greeted him and he said I had a good game and I told him good luck for the next games, only that,” he explained after that explosive showdown.
He got another feather in his cap after that display, being named the best player of the week by Caf. Thereafter, the rumour mill had it that Ahly and their Cairo rivals Zamalek were keen on signing him.
Simba’s motor-mouth spokesperson, Haji ‘De La Boss’ Manara, sensationally vowed they would slap any potential suitor with a €1 million [R17 million] asking price.
“I want to make it very clear that Luis is currently under contract with Simba. His final offer cannot be less than €1 million, which is the last offer that Simba will accept for the player to leave,” Manara said.
Although Tico’s agency no longer works with him, he hopes he can move to a more competitive League.
“He’s done well at Simba, but, with all due respect, I don’t think that League is the most competitive League. He needs to go to a competitive League and test himself against the best players,” Tico added.
Regarding the forgettable spell in Tshwane, Miquissone admits lack of experience may have hindered him and regrets not being able to have shown his talents to South African football fans in the PSL.
“That time I was still young, I was waiting for people to help me and it never came but the biggest reason is that I never got the chance to play. I didn’t get minutes in South Africa.”
On Saturday, when Simba take on Kaizer Chiefs in a Caf Champions League semi-final tie, he returns to Gauteng a much more mature and accomplished player.
The stage is set for him at the FNB Stadium to show Mzansi what Mosimane and Sundowns missed out on!
By Mthokozisi Dube