JOHANNESBURG – The sport that helps Abbubaker Mobara support his livelihood, took him away from the dangerous streets of Mitchells Plain, made him an Olympian who squared off against Neymar and turned him into a household name, bores him.
“I don’t watch football at all; it bores me. Thirty minutes of it and I fall asleep. I tried before. Analysing games is different, but watching it at home is boring. I would rather switch off the TV and do something else. Football doesn’t excite me,” the Orlando Pirates’ versatile player said.
If football bores him, then why does he play it?
“Good question. I am still searching for the answer. It could be because I am passionate about it as it’s something I love... to play. It’s bad for me not to watch it because I want to learn. Watching it could probably change 50 percent or more of my performance.”
That should be a scary thought for Mobara’s opponents. Despite not watching the beautiful game, he is one of the smartest footballers in the country and any improvement from his game would make him a beast.
He is comfortable playing in central midfield, central defence and at right back. But that versatility comes with its complications, like what exactly is his position.
“It worries me a lot because I am unsure of where should I focus,” he says.
“Do I focus on being a midfielder, central defender or right back? It’s confusing to move back and forth from those three different positions because they ask different things from you. This creates a situation where I have a lot of things in my head.
There’s only one thing in the heads of those associated with the Buccaneers tonight. Can they rewrite the wrongs of last season – their worst campaign in the PSL era, and make up for that disappointment by bringing joy to the Ghost?
Chippa United at Orlando Stadium stands in the way of that in the club’s opening Absa Premiership match. New coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic has been working on toughening up the players mentally.
“It’s difficult to forget what happened in the past and focus on the new season because we still have that disappointment at the back of our heads,” Mobara said.
“For us to fix it, we must work on the training fields to push hard. If you do well at training by nature you will do well on the field because training is preparation for what you will face on the field.
“If you f... around here, you will f... around in the match. Maybe last season a few of us weren’t hungry enough. We were too playful. The reality is that this is our work. This is what brings food on the table so we have to get serious.”
Mobara’s debut season with Pirates was bittersweet.
He finally joined a big team with a large following, but he didn’t have much time to celebrate as Bucs slumped to one disappointment after another – hammered 6-0 by Sundowns, 6-1 by SuperSport before Matsatsantsa a Pitori outclassed them 4-1 in the Nedbank Cup final.
The 23-year-old shined nonetheless, impressing Pirates’ legend Lucky Lekgwathi to tip Mobara as his preferred candidate to replace Oupa Manyisa as captain.
“To be honest with myself, there is still a small kid inside of me trying to grow up – not just in football but in life. It wouldn’t be bad for me to be captain at my age, but there's a lot more for me to learn. This is a big club with 80 years of history, which is like 80kg on your shoulders as captain. But we grow in tough situations.”