AFTER winning the North American Soccer League with New York Cosmos, Lucky Mkosana becomes the first Zimbabwean to play top league (Veikkausliiga) in Finland after signing for IFK Mariehamn on Friday.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
Mkosana (29) signed a one-year contract with Mariehamn in a deal that is open to extension by another year.
The Finnish Premier Division champions, who will play in the qualifying round of the 2018 Uefa Champions League, said they had been following the Plumtree born-player and were enchanted by the dreadlocked forward’s style of play.
The club’s sports director Peter Mattsson was quoted as saying: “We have scouted Mkosana and brought in a number of references of him from our close contacts in the US and this is a player we believe will strengthen the IFK in a good way. Mkosana is strong, fast and generally difficult to beat for the opponents. And overall quite complete, and a humble and positive person even outside the pitch.”
On their official social network Facebook page, IFK said Mkosana joins them after parting ways with New York Cosmos, who despite winning the North American Soccer League, were in financial dire straits and failed to pay player wages.
“New York Cosmos won the title this year (last year), unfortunately, they have financial problems and have not paid salaries to their players the past few months, therefore, Lucky had the opportunity to break their existing contracts for 2017 ahead of schedule, allowing Mkosana to be free to seek a new club. Mkosana has been coveted by many clubs in the United States but wanted to play in Europe and therefore chose Finnish champions IFK Mariehamn,” IFK said.
In an Instagram post, Mkosana said he was delighted to be joining IFK Mariehamn, who have been dubbed the “Finnish Leicester” after winning their first league title last year.
“(I am) honored to join such a historic club @ifkmariehamns and thanks to the management for giving me this opportunity and believing in me. To everyone who has helped and supported me throughout this process, I’m forever grateful and can’t thank you enough for all your tremendous efforts,” Mkosana said.
Mkosana played college football at Dartmouth College in the US between 2008 and 2011 and won the Ivy Rookie of the Year in 2008 and was named Ivy League Player of the Year in 2011 making it into the All-Ivy First Team from 2008-2011.
Mkosana then moved to the US Premier Development League where he played for Michigan Bucks in 2011 and was selected in the 2012 Major League Soccer SuperDraft by Chicago Fire, but they did not sign him.
He then joined Harrisburg City Islanders in the USL Pro in May 2012 before moving to Tampa Bay Rowdies in the North American Soccer League in January 2014.
In November of that same year he joined New York Cosmos where he stayed until his move to Europe.