JUST like his first name sounds, one would think Lucky Mkosana was fortunate to be amongst the 18-man Warriors squad that touched down at the Maya Airport in Brazzaville yesterday.
Zimbabwe are in Brazzaville for the Group G African Cup of Nations qualifier against Congo at the Stade Alphonse Massamba this afternoon.
Lucky Mkosana’s debut Warriors call-up was a major surprise, his performances during the three-day camp were not that convincing but the United States based striker — who has 10 goals in 21 games for second tier side Penn FC — comes in with an interesting resume. An Aces Youth Soccer Academy student and a beneficiary of Methembe Ndlovu’s strong contact base in the United States, the 30-year-old Mkosana’s connection with some of the game’s yesteryear greats could come in handy in the Warriors dressing room.
Mkosana played with Spanish legend Raul and retired Brazilian pass master Marcos Senna at New York Cosmos in 2015 where the great Pele, who is the club’s ambassador, would occasionally attend the dressing room team talks. Croatia’s 2006 World Cup player and former Tottenham midfielder Niko Kranjcar was also Mkosana’s teammate at Cosmos in 2016.
“I learnt a lot from Raul, he was 38 when we played together at New York Cosmos and his vast knowledge of the game is still invaluable even up to this day. We would go to his house for some barbecue and he would give us some life time football tips. I am still in contact with Raul and I still apply most of what he taught me,” revealed Mkosana.
The Plumtree-born striker went to the United States 12 years ago, after securing a scholarship to study International Development with Dartmouth College. He also now has a Masters in Sports Management acquired through Real Madrid’s online graduate school.
“After finishing school at Umzingwane, I had a stint at Aces Youth Academy, right about the time the likes of Khama (Billiat) and Knowledge Musona were also coming up. I also trained with Highlanders’ Under 18 team through Methembe (Ndlovu) and that is when I impressed some United States coaches who came to search for talent in Bulawayo. That’s how I ended up getting a scholarship,” said Mkosana, who turns 31 on September 30.
One thing that shocked Mkosana when he attended his first ever Warriors session last Tuesday, was the array of talent on show at the National Sports.
“It’s my first time with the Warriors and I felt honoured when manager Welly (Mupandare) gave me a call to come for national duty. I felt more honoured when I took part in my first session and wow, we got talent man. We have a very good crop of players, everyone looked hungry, everyone worked hard and it was all looking good,” he said.
Mkosana was deployed as a second striker during the Warriors auditions and is now poised to make his Warriors debut in Congo this afternoon, most likely from the bench. Zimbabwe travel to Congo for only the second time since 1980.
Coincidentally, the last time Zimbabwe played Congo in an Afcon qualifier in Brazzaville was also in September of 1990 when the Warriors lost 0-2.
The return leg ended 2-2 at National Sports on 14 July 1991.