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ISL 2020-21: Why Rowllin Borges is the most underrated Indian midfielder

ISL 2020-21: Why Rowllin Borges is the most underrated Indian midfielder

Sayan Chatterjee

Published: 8 Dec 2020 11:25 AM GMT

Rowllin Borges seems like someone who would shake your hands gently, smiling all the while, and then wish you good day thrice before he departed. Besides being a wonderful midfielder for club and country, he is one of the most affable human beings around, determined on the field and disarming off it.

In the Indian Super League (ISL) this season, he has been one of the most consistent players for Mumbai City FC. Having joined the Islanders from NorthEast United, you could see why Sergio Lobera wanted him in the side. In the matches so far, he has been the perfect foil for his partner Ahmed Jahouh in midfield.


While Jahouh is tasked with the playmaking side of the things using his passing range, Rowllin breaks up play, slots into defence and even bombs forward on numerous occasions to make up the numbers upfront. A very good example of that was the goal he got in the last match. When Bipin Singh’s cross came in from the left, one would have imagined someone like Ogbeche or Goddard to be at the end of it. Instead it was Rowllin, who sprinted across from deep midfield and got the decisive header ahead of everyone else.

That is the desire that epitomizes rowllin’s game. He is always eager for the ball, never shies away from a 50-50 situation and is always looking around him to help his teammates out. It’s like Lobera has found another Lenny Rodrigues in him even though Rowllin has always been more attack-minded than the 33-year-old veteran midfielder. It’s his understanding of the game and ability to anticipate what’s going to happen that sets him apart.

In the four matches so far, he has an incredible tally of 17 tackles (9th highest in the league) and 15 interceptions (most in the league). Just to put those statistics into perspective, he also has the second most number of touches (326) and passes (271) in the league so far at an accuracy of 84%. This versatility is what makes him an indispensable cog in Lobera’s Mumbai City machine.

What makes him even more special is that he is a leader who leads by example. You rarely see him take out his frustration on his teammates after a poor pass or whine and moan during the difficult moments. Instead, he’s always at the forefront, rallying the younger players in the side and constantly chirping instructions at them. Going forward, you feel that it is the availability of him, Jahouh and Hugo Boumous that is going to be the most crucial factor when it comes to Mumbai City’s title challenge.

When fans talk about Indian midfielders, they usually sing praises of the likes of Brandon Fernandes, Anirudh Thapa and Sahal Abdul Samad. The position and style that he plays is probably why Rowllin is not mentioned in the same breath in terms of the value that these players add to the Indian national team. However, it is players like him that stand up and take the game by the scruff of its neck when the going gets tough. And this is why this season might just be the one where Rowllin truly etches himself in the minds of fans all over the country. The only question is whether he and his team can carry on doing the good things that have taken them to the top of the table.

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