A solitary win in the opening three games of the new Indian Super League (ISL) season hasn’t really given Mumbai City FC (MCFC) the greatest of starts, but it sure has underlined one important apotheosis in central midfield.
Rowllin Borges, bought from NorthEast United ahead of the season, is already turning out to be an important element in manager Jorge Costa’s road to bettering his showings with the club last season.
Borges, 27, played under Eelco Schattorie last season at NorthEast, and the Dutch manager, in fact, played a key role in his development.
Having played as a defensive midfielder for most of his career, Schattorie gave him an advanced box-to-box role last season. The transition worked wonders as Borges, who was without a goal in the past two seasons, returned the favour with four crucial league goals and two assists which thrust the team into their first-ever semi-finals.
Now that he has switched alliances, the 27-year-old is expected to be the catalyst that MCFC are in dire need of. The early results indeed portray a different story for the Mumbai-based club, but the effects of Borges’s involvement are subtle, to say the least.
Instilled at the heart of Costa’s 4-2-3-1 approach, Borges occupies a slot alongside Raynier Fernandes, and in the two games he has played for his new club, he hasn’t disappointed.
“The coach has new plans and new ideas,” Borges said in an interview.
“So I have to fit into his plan and I have to perform the way he wants me to. I have to train hard and make my place in the team. I'm sure it will be interesting,"
Nine fouls in just two games might give you a picture of him committing silly fouls at times, but there is indeed much more than what meets the eye.
Borges averages 34.5 passes per game with an accuracy of 71.01% and has had 102 touches in just two games. He is someone who is always available for the ball no matter the situation. His clever reading both on and off the field allows him to minimize the threat in a simpler way, and the two games he has been a part of until now are the perfect specimen of it. 14 tackles, eight clearances, four blocks and one interception helped Mumbai register two back-to-back clean-sheets early in the season.
And when he pulled his hamstring during the warm-ups ahead of the Odisha game, Mumbai were in trouble since the first whistle, conceding the opening goal as early as the sixth minute.
Borges’ arrival not only adds steel, but it also brings stability in front of the back-four which kept the joint-highest clean sheets alongside FC Goa and NorthEast United last season.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / RowllinB