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Tico-Tico to quit after Angola

By Piers Edwards
BBC Sport, Johannesburg

Mozambique captain Tico-Tico
Mozambique captain Tico-Tico will retire after the Africa Cup of Nations

Mozambique captain Tico-Tico has said he will quit international football after January's African Cup of Nations in Angola.

The southern African country has not produced too many legendary footballers but Tico-Tico, Mozambique's record goalscorer and caps holder, is certainly one.

The Mambas reached their first Nations Cup since 1998, and only their fourth ever, when finishing third in Group B of African qualifying on Saturday.

"The Nations Cup will be the end for me as I'm 36 now," he told BBC Sport after the crucial 1-0 home win over Tunisia.

"I'd wanted to give up at the beginning of the campaign but they wouldn't allow me to stop, so I had to work hard to help them.

"But by 2012, I'll be 38 and by the 2014 World Cup, I'll be 40 so it's the perfect time for someone to come in and replace me.

"I'm just happy to finish like this, because not everyone has a chance to finish in such a way."

Born in Maputo, just like Mozambique's greatest footballing export Eusebio (who starred for colonial masters Portugal in the 1960s), Tico-Tico's debut came on his 19th birthday.

Although the Mambas lost the 1992 clash in Zaire (now DR Congo), the forward went on to win over 80 caps while scoring more than 30 goals.

Early in his career, Mozambique qualified for Nations Cups in both South Africa (1996) and Burkina Faso (1998).

And although he scored four minutes into his tournament debut, Tico-Tico failed to find the net in his following five matches.

Facing Tunisia, Ghana and Ivory Coast in 1996, and Morocco, Egypt and Zambia in 1998, the Mambas propped up their group both times but the veteran wants more from 2010.

"It's going to be the third Nations Cup of my career and hopefully we can do better than in the previous two," he said.

"But it's really beautiful to have qualified for Angola, which is a Portuguese-speaking country like us, in such a special year for African football.

"Now we just have to prepare properly and hope we do well."

The Mambas will not be short of experience upfront as Tico-Tico and strike partner Dario, Saturday's match-winner, are the sole surviving members of the 1998 Nations Cup squad.

Though having played in both Portugal and the United States, Tico-Tico has spent most of his club career in South Africa where he currently plays, albeit rarely, for Jomo Cosmos.

"I hope to play league football for a couple more seasons, either in the PSL or back home," says a man who was born Manuel Jose Luis Bucuane.

But before heading back to Maputo, Tico-Tico - who has scored 106 PSL goals - will hope to surpass the league's all-time record of 108.

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see also
Tunisia blame pitch and heat
15 Nov 09 |  African
Nigeria qualify for the World Cup
14 Nov 09 |  African
African World Cup qualifiers
14 Nov 09 |  African
Nooij seeks Tunisia scalp
09 Nov 09 |  African

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