JOHANNESBURG – The blonde hairstyle Abbubaker Mobara wears probably hides grey hair which would have appeared due to the stressful campaign Orlando Pirates had last season, even though the versatile player could argue it was one of his best seasons as a professional.
Last season the 23-year-old finally left Ajax Cape Town to join the ambitious Buccaneers. But Pirates’ campaign was so disastrous it felt like the season dragged longer than normal for them. The club had three coaches including one who resigned live on television, and conceded six goals in a single match - twice.
Dealing with that would have made anyone age faster than they ought to. Mobara’s move to the Sea Robbers might have coincided with their ship sinking, but he stayed afloat with consistent performances that earned him the role of vice-captain.
“You can’t hide the fact that we had a bad season,” Mobara said. “But what you can do is improve this season. That’s what we are doing. A new coach has come in with a new philosophy and a new style of play. We have to take what they are teaching us and produce on the field. That’s what we are doing each and every day. We are working hard and we are doing our homework which is what we need to do to improve.”
Mobara captained Pirates in the win over Mamelodi Sundowns and the draw with Polokwane City in the absence of Thabo Matlaba. The Buccaneers have started 2018 with a bang, collecting six points and scoring six goals in their first two games before stealing a point at the death against Rise and Shine. They will look to continue with that run on Saturday afternoon against Platinum Stars in Phokeng.
Pirates trail leaders Sundowns by seven points with 12 matches to go, and look on course to achieve one of their objectives - qualifying for continental football by finishing in the top three.
“I am not even looking at second and third, I am looking at first,” Mobara said. “That’s what we want to chase. The league is tight. Anyone can win it.”
The lad from Mitchells Plain speaks his mind, but he smartly side-stepped the question of whether he would like to finish the season at Pirates amidst speculations that he could be involved in a swap deal that would see Bidvest Wits’ Xola Mlambo go in the opposite direction.
Mobara is critical of how they performed last season but doesn’t regret his decision to leave the comfort of the Urban Warriors for the Buccaneers’ demanding environment.
“It’s embarrassing for a team like this. How we are going to change that is by winning games and pushing for the top, chasing whoever is first. That’s the belief we have in the coach and on ourselves
“The league is on my bucket list. This is something that I want to win with every feeling and emotion in me.”