Wednesday, 15 February 2012

'Mbazo' prepares to leave sinking ship

Tuesday night was a tough one for Portsmouth supporters. Faced with the prospect of entering administration for the second time, a cruelly disallowed goal by the aptly-named referee Darren Deadman denied them a point against Ipswich Town and leaves the south coast club facing an uphill battle to remain in the Championship.

Watching on from the bench at Fratton Park was former Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena. He was one of the first players to emerge from the home dressing room after the final whistle to clap around 2,000 Portsmouth fans who had stayed behind to stage an hour-long protest that illustrated their anger that the club should find itself in such peril again.

Fighting for his place in the side after returning from a hamstring injury, 'Mbazo' has developed a close bond with the club since moving there from Blackburn in 2009 and told me in an interview last year that he chooses to lives in the city centre because he 'loves being able to have a conversation with the people who pay to watch you every week'. The man who won a record 107 caps for his country has certainly seen a lot in his distinguished career, but nothing could have prepared him for this situation.

An expected 10-point deduction at Friday's High Court hearing will leave Portsmouth just outside the relegation zone on goal difference. With a transfer embargo likely to be enforced and manager Michael Appleton's squad down to the bare bones, they will need every ounce of Mokoena's vast experience to help them steady the ship.

Yet with the administrators set to be tasked with fulfilling the demands of the club's many creditors (including a massive electricity bill), there is every chance that their first move will be to try and move on several players on big salaries. That could spell the end for the 31-year-old defender who began his career at Jomo Cosmos and went on to play in Germany, Belgium and Holland - as well as the likes of Tal Ben Haim, fellow Cosmos graduate Benjani and captain Liam Lawrence.

Back in November, Mokoena stated in our interview that he would like to end his career in a different country, specifically mentioning USA, China and the United Arab Emirates. In line with his ambition to build his own professional side back home in South Africa when he finally calls it a day, it seems a lucrative final contract could well be on the cards after Chinese team Dalian Shide were linked.

Leaving Portsmouth and England behind would certainly be a wrench for a player who has been in Europe since moving to Bayer Leverkusen as an 18-year-old in 1998. But with the club desperate to survive the choppy seas of administration once more, Mokoena may see now as the perfect opportunity to jump ship.

1 comment:

  1. Very informative read...i think Mbazo has done his bit,he should just come home.He never really set the international scene alight.He depended much on his physical ability.At this stage of his career much is depended on technical ability which he lacks.Jomo Sono is waiting for him