The Big Interview: Abbubaker Mobara sat down for an extensive one-on-one with one of the current crop of Ajax Cape Town’s rising stars, defender Abbubaker Mobara.

Mobara was on target for the Urban Warriors during Sunday’s 3-0 Telkom Knockout win over Black Aces, scoring a superbly-taken goal after having surged through the middle of the park while combining with Cecil Lolo, underlining his quality and showing composure beyond his 20 years with a cool finish.

After making a brief showing in the 2012/ 2013 season, Mobara made his PSL breakthrough in a big way last season, establishing himself as one of Ajax’s best players during the 2013/ 2014 campaign. The Mitchells Plain-born player put in some outstanding performances, despite having been played as a central midfield holding player by Muhsin Ertugral rather than his favoured central defender role.

Mobara is on the books of football agent Rob Moore, who also manages Steven Pienaar and Benni McCarthy among others. And Moore for one believes Mobara has it within him to become a superstar: “He’s the best back four talent to come out of South Africa for years, His style is similar to a right sided [former England international] Ashley Cole – technically very strong, good control and dribbling skills, and great recovery pace which is essential for a modern fullback against increasingly quicker wingers. He has good build for a fullback, with a very relaxed style on the ball and a good disciplined aggression off it,” he said.

We put the following questions to Mobara: Ajax have arguably taken a lot of people by surprise this season by making a great start to both their league, and now their Telkom Knockout campaigns. After two less-than-successful seasons, what can you attribute this improvement to?

Abbubaker Mobara: I have to thank my teammates, management and the coach for building this team up to the way it is today. The vibe inside the team, the environment, the feeling inside the change-room is different to two or three seasons back. Two or three seasons ago, we were fighting for relegation. Today we are fighting to win the league. But the league is a big marathon, it doesn’t end tomorrow, it goes on for a long time. So we just have to keep doing the basics, take it one game at a time. So do you believe that your coach Roger de Sa and Ajax Cape Town are a perfect fit?

Abbubaker Mobara: He’s more than a coach, he’s also a friend. He tries to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible, he gives an even chance to each and every player, he has no favourites. That is what makes him a good coach, he plays people that deserve to play. We’re once again looking at a very young Ajax side. Does the team have enough steel to mount a serious trophy challenge this season?

Abbubaker Mobara: A lot of us are young and still need experience. But the more senior players around us help, like Granwald Scott, Franklin Cale, Lance Davids, guys that have been playing more than 10 years in the top leagues. With the experience behind us, with Scott in the middle, with Nazier Allie and the likes, it should be easier for us.

Without them, this team wouldn’t be performing the way it is now, without their experience, we could still be fighting relegation. It would be a huge achievement for us to win a trophy. Ajax haven’t been good in cup games in the last few years, since we won the Telkom Knockout six years ago, and the Rothmans Cup before that. But this season could be different, a different environment, different team, a different Ajax, and hopefully we’ll win the TKO. Are you happy to once again be playing in your natural centre-back role, and tell us a bit about your combination with Rivaldo Coetzee.

Abbubaker Mobara: Roger gave me a chance at the back, and that’s where I’m most comfortable, at center-back. I find it easier at the back, because everything starts from the back, the build-up starts from the back, so its comfortable. The centre of the park is more compact, more aggressive, and it usually suits more senior players. I think centre-back at this point in time is the best position for me. Myself and Rivaldo had a full season together before in the junior ranks before we played alongside each other for the first team, so we already had quite a good understanding.

With the power he carries, sometimes he seems like the senior guy between us (At just 17-years-old, Coetzee is three Mobara’s junior). Rivaldo has many qualities, he can jump, he has a bit of pace, and he’s also clever…I would say he is more the breaker, and I’m the cover defence, because I have my speed and also my technical abilities, I think the partnership has been good so far. Your thoughts on the recent call-up of three of your fellow young teammates – Keagan Dolly, Coetzee and Ayabulela Magqwaka?

Abbubaker Mobara: With them getting call-ups for Bafana, it tells me I have to work harder to achieve what they are doing. Whatever they achieve, I’m grateful for, because they deserve it. Rivaldo has not been long in the system, and he’s already achieving things, I’m happy for him and he serves as motivation. And on your young captain, the 21-year-old Travis Graham?

Abbubaker Mobara: I’ve been with Travis for a few years now, he’s an exceptional player, he’s been progressing throughout. He’s been struggling with injuries, but keeps fighting. That’s what I like about Travis as a captain, he fights for his team, not for himself, he always puts the team first.