The Indian midfielder feels that Qatar’s cooling technology is a bonus for players who has to cover a lot of distance in the match…
Rowllin Borges was one of the instrumental figures in midfield on that fateful night in Qatar when India held the hosts to a gritty 0-0 draw in the World Cup qualifiers in September 2019.
The Mumbai City FC midfielder was deployed as a defensive screen in front of the backline and apart from a glitch when he gave away possession in his own half, he hardly put a foot wrong in that match. He was tasked to block attacks from the middle and when Qatar looked to find space for a through ball, Borges would be there to narrow down the angle which would force the opposition to play wide.
He was a silent warrior who gave his all but without any pomp. As the match progressed and especially in the final quarter when Qatar threw their all in attack, Borges kept his calm and showed nerves of steel.
“We were motivated to do better. We were frustrated after the match against Oman. We wanted a better result from that match but we did not get it. So the pent-up motivation and frustration showed against Qatar. I think because of that we got a good result. It was a huge result. You could see the celebrations on the pitch. You can see that happiness. We deserved the result,” stated the player to Goal.
But Borges being himself did not drag the celebrations long. Even after achieving one of the milestone results in Indian football history he kind of remained nonchalant.
“When I came back to the hotel, I did not go out of the room. I was just sitting with Mandar and talked about the game, like how well they played and what things we could learn from them.”
A lot has happened since that result in Doha. Not only Borges has matured as a footballer he also holds the ISL (Indian Super League) League Shield and the winner’s medal. A champion forged in many hard-fought battles. He believes that the key behind succeeding against quality sides is to remain positive.
“You have to be mentally strong. That is the most important thing. When you are facing a team that is higher-ranked or even a team who is lower ranked the mindset is the most important thing,” he quipped.
However, for a player like him who has to cover a lot of ground, apart from the mental side he also has to focus a lot on his physical attributes so that he has enough gas to last him for 10-12 kms. And against a side like Qatar who is likely to enjoy the lion’s share of possession, it is understood that you have to run more.
But the cooling technology in the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium came to his aid in the previous match and he hopes that this time also it will help the players beat the soaring temperatures.
“The facilities in Qatar are very good. The field and the pitch that we played and trained on were extraordinary. The cooling technology in the stadium is amazing. You know it’s very hot in Qatar. But you will get cold vibes in the stadium. It keeps you refreshed. That was the first time I had seen something of that sort in a stadium. Even at the 85th minute, you will remain fresh when that air blows. You feel that you can keep on running,” he explained.
If India have to contain Qatar, Igor Stimac will need Borges at his best. His match-reading skills coupled with his high work rate make him one of the most sought-after defensive midfielders in India. A lot will depend on how his day goes at the office.
And as far as the millions of fans in India who will be glued to their screens this coming Thursday, might just have a single message for him, ‘run Rowllin run!’