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The 25-year-old has previously plied his trade in Belgium, France and Qatar among other places.
Bengaluru FC signing Congolese forward Prince Ibara adds to a growing trend among Indian Super League (ISL) clubs signing tall, physical strikers in the mould of a conventional target-man to lead the line.
Born in Brazaville, the right footed striker spent the early part of his footballing career in Gabon and Tunisia. After a farily successful first half of the season with CA Bizertin in 2016-17, Ibara signed for Al-Wakrah SC of the Qatar Stars League for the latter half.
After a somewhat ordinary season in there, the striker returned to his home continent – joining USM Alger of the Algerian top tier league. This is where he caught the attention of European scouts. The then-22-year-old Ibara scored 9 times in 23 games and this fine form helped him earn a move to Europe.
Belgian side Beerschot signed him at the beginning of the 2019-20 season. However, he went through a run of 12 goalless games for them and was given the chance to go out on loan and gain some form. Thus, loan moves to Neftchi Baku and Chateuaroux followed. Once again, Ibara struggled to find form and Bengaluru FC have now signed him, for the upcoming 2021-22 season.
So how does Ibara play?
As mentioned earlier, Prince Ibara is in the mould of traditional target-men who are tall, and physically well-endowed with excellent aerial ability. When you watch the Congolese striker play, you would notice two things immediately – his physique and finishing abilities. These are also his two best attributes.
The 25-year-old is built like a mountain and does not shy away from going into duels in the final third of the pitch. Ibara has a powerful right foot and strikes the ball with immense power. He seems to have an instinct of finding where the goal is. He takes up good positions usually and when a cross is aimed at him he usually positions him well in advance to give him the best chance of heading the ball.
However, there are flaws in his game too. Apart from his ball-striking and finishing, his overall game is not well-rounded. He is not a great dribbler, an average passer and is not proficient in bringing his teammates into play. Ibara does not have a great work-rate and when the game is not controlled by his team, he is often left isolated.
However, he does know how to take his chances. He places his shots well and has a wide variety of shots in his locker.
What do the stats say?
The above radar depicts his 2020-21 season in the French second tier with Chateauroux. The striker managed to clock around 1000 minutes and scored thrice for the French club. As mentioned earlier, the stats also say that this striker is above average at getting shots off, takes a reasonable number of touches and has a fairly decent xG per 90 metric too. But apart from anything that happens inside the box, he is found lacking.
Prince Ibara does not assist much in the build-up phase and is not a creative passer either. He attempts a lot of offensive duels but his success rate is pretty average. But this particular stat may translate well into the ISL given the difference in physical quality of players between Ligue 2 and ISL.
How are BFC going to utilise him?
In a previous article, Khel Now have explained why Bengaluru FC have struggled to replace Miku. This signing also follows something similar.
Going by his performances and abilities for former clubs and his limitations on the ball, Ibara is going to find it difficult to replicate the Spaniard unless BFC have other plans. The Congolese is no different to the likes of Deshorn Brown, Manuel Onwu and Kristian Opseth when it comes to their on the ball quality which Miku provided in abundance.