Cape Town City announced the free signing of Orlando Pirates’ Abbubaker Mobara, with the defender-cum-midfielder departing Bucs after a mixed three seasons. Why did he not fulfil his undoubted potential at Pirates?
The former Ajax Cape Town man arrived at Mayfair as Bucs beat Mamelodi Sundowns to his signature. Shortly after joining, he had his famous performance at right back in the Rio 2016 Olympics against Neymar, doing an excellent job on the world-class star. He arrived at Pirates as a player who was considered mostly as either a defensive midfielder or fullback, despite his best displays at Ajax Cape Town coming in the 2014-15 season in central defence, alongside Rivaldo Coetzee. The young duo started 17 PSL games together in the middle of defence that season, averaging 1.88 points per game.
At the time of arriving at Bucs though, Mobara had come of the back of a poor end to the 2015/16 season. The sad death of Cecil Lolo saw him covering at right back for a run of games and in central defence, he kept just one PSL clean sheet alongside Coetzee all season. At the time, complacency and rumoured poor discipline off the field were mooted as reasons for his sudden drop in form and he was dropped for some of the games towards the end of the campaign.
At Pirates, he has never settled into a regular position nor found consistent form. In his first season at the club, he won the Nedbank Cup Player of the Tournament after netting goals in both the quarter-final and semi-final, but Pirates were beaten 4-1 by SuperSport United in the final. He mostly played as defensive midfielder that season, but the side kept four clean sheets in six games when he played his natural role in central defence. It appeared that coaches did not regularly trust him in that role due to his lack of height.
Once Milutin Sredojevic came in, Mobara had some positive performances in midfield alongside Musa Nyatama and even captained the side on three occasions. However, he had significant injury problems and played just 1046 minutes in the PSL, amounting to 39% of the available minutes. Xola Mlambo was signed in January and Mobara’s Pirates career as a midfielder was all but over.
In the season just gone, he managed only eight starts, seven at right back and one in central defence. Once it became clear that he wasn’t going to renew his contract, he was left out for the final 10 PSL matches. He never really settled into a regular position at Pirates, nor played an extended run of games - injuries played their part.
His time at Pirates did not see the player fulfil his potential, but a move to Cape Town City means he will have family comforts again and with Kwanda Mngonyama being sold to Maritzburg United, Mobara could potentially return to his most natural position in central defence - the one he played in most commonly during his academy days and in the standout season of his career. At 25, there is still time for him to deliver on his early promise.
Should Pirates have held onto Mobara? Which position do you think he is most suited to? Let us know by commenting below!