Can Ahmed Jahouh and Rowllin Borges together take ISL by storm?

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Domination, according to Oxford dictionary, means ‘The exercise of power or influence over someone or something’. Domination, according to me, means Ahmed Jahouh and Rowllin Borges.

Not often will anyone get to see such a wholesome pairing, atleast in India. Jahouh and Borges have bossed proceedings in the past, albeit respectively for their teams. Both have shown impressive fortitude to somewhat marshall their clubs with their maturity and vision. While Jahouh has been cementing his position as one of ISL’s best players since quite a few seasons, Borges has come through to establish himself as India’s best.

The magic both of them create on the ground, seperately, is itself so surreal that thinking of them play together compels the thought that Indian Football isn’t ready for this firecracker of a duo.

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Will Jahouh and Borges make Mumbai City’s midfield the best in the league? Maybe the answer will be clearer at the end of this piece.

Can Ahmed Jahouh and Rowllin Borges together take ISL by storm? SAVE 20200612 222027
Mumbai City FC have hit the jackpot with the duo of Jahouh and Borges.

Ahmed Jahouh- One of ISL’s best players ever?

Ahmed Jahouh was introduced to India during the 2017-18 season of the ISL. Over the next 3 seasons, he never ran short of extravaganza as he showed his magic on the pitch regularly. He took to Lobera’s system like duck to water and was vital in whatever success Goa had in the past few years. A literate workhorse, Jahouh is known for his incredible passing and no-nonsense defending. His long balls, vision and accurate tackling has led Goa to many victories.

Stats favour him as well. Ahmed Jahouh tops the all time chart of passes, touches and tackles, which don’t necessarily show the complete picture but gives the idea of his quality. We will also take a deeper look into his 2019-20 season stats later on in this article.

One of the most noticeable features of Jahouh is his long balls. Time and again you can see him around the midline, with the ball at his feet, and then attempting a long pass. If it were any other player it could have gone astray, but not with Jahouh. On almost every occasion Jahouh finds his man and delivers the ball to his teammates which leaves defenders puzzled. He’s defensively strong too, evident from the fact that he has clean tackles through which he wins the ball back.

Ahmed Jahouh
Ahmed Jahouh was vital in whatever success FC Goa have got in the past few years. (Credits-ISL Media)

Rowllin Borges- Mumbai’s Tank

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Rowllin Borges, undoubtedly Mumbai City’s best Indian player this season, has had a major transformation. Borges had received a lot of flack from fans in the past, but what he has done in the last two years is phenomenal. He’s a complete all-rounder on the ground, and his stint at Northeast United prepped him to become a beast at Mumbai City FC this season.

Borges had a great season this time, with the ‘Tank’ acting as the blood of the team. He played his role of a defensive midfielder to perfection.

Passes/9032
Passing Accuracy85%
Tackles/902
Tackle Success Rate93.75%
Stats of Rowllin Borges (Credits- SportsKPI)

A blend of aggression and maturity, Borges was pivotal in Mumbai City’s limited success this season. Usually deployed as a Central Defensive Midfielder in Jorge Costa’s 4-3-3 formation, Borges did exceedingly well to minimize the goals scored against Mumbai. But what stood out was his attacking instincts. A box-to-box midfielder under Eelco Schattorie, Borges showed glimpses of his former self as he showed how influential he can be when asked to attack. He has been found making tough passes look easy a lot of times as well. He spots unmarked players quickly and backs himself to feed the forwards a sweet ball. Diego Carlos and Moudou Sougou were recipients of Borges’s aforementioned gifts on several occasions.

Not only this, Borges has the ability to enter the box at the right time, and can find the back of the net when asked for, like he did in games against FC Goa and Bengaluru FC.

Can Ahmed Jahouh and Rowllin Borges together take ISL by storm? SAVE 20200628 223241
Rowllin Borges has now become one of India’s best midfielders. (Credits- ISL Media)

How good were Jahouh and Rodrigues together?

For 2 seasons, Jahouh and Lenny Rodrigues have played in a double pivot under Sergio Lobera, with the latter being more attacking upfront while Jahouh was defensive. As mentioned earlier, Jahouh used to slip into the 3-man defence when the full backs went forward and Lenny joined the midfielders upfront to control the play. Lenny at times acted as the watchdog and played a deep role whenever the team was close to the opposition box to avoid counter-attacks.

Can Ahmed Jahouh and Rowllin Borges together take ISL by storm? 20200623 181543
Comparison of Heat Maps ( Credits- SofaScore)
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No surprises, these two players complemented each other quite well, as it is evident from the amount of points FC Goa have picked up in the last two seasons. They also won the ISL League Shield this season, with the same players. With Lenny, at 33, unfortunately slipping away from his prime, Goa would have been forced to look at a new partner of Jahouh for the future, but it seems the Moroccan has found the best replacement, albeit in a different team.

Is Borges an upgraded version of Rodrigues?

Can Ahmed Jahouh and Rowllin Borges together take ISL by storm? 20200624 131348
Statistically comparing Borges and Rodrigues’s 2019-20 season. (Credits- SportsKPI

Before drawing conclusions from the above infographic, it has to be noted that Borges played a deeper role for Mumbai City than Lenny Rodrigues played for FC Goa. Even after this, Borges seems to have overpowered Rodrigues in almost every metric. The number of interceptions in own half and the ball recovery rate throws light of Borges’s unquestionable defensive attributes, and his passes in final third/90 and attacking passes/90 also show his attacking instincts. Taking simpler attributes into consideration, Rowllin Borges has a G+A tally of 4 while Lenny lacks behind with 2.

Age is another factor which needs to be taken into consideration. Borges turned 28 this year, entering into his prime, while Rodrigues turned 33 this year. FC Goa extended the latter’s contract till 2022, keeping Lenny at the club for possibly his last few years. He has also expressed his interest at retiring at his home club.

To answer our main question- Is Borges an upgrade? He sure is. It will be interesting to see if the Margao lad succeeds in pushing Jahouh to perform even better, and if it turns out to be so, Christmas could be coming early for Mumbai City.

Conclusion- Will Jahouh and Borges take the league by storm?

Personally, even a neutral fan wouldn’t deny it. For Mumbai City FC fans, they are going to experience some high-voltage football from the next season onwards. Sergio Lobera is going to take over Mumbai City FC now, and he’s expected to create the same magic as he did in Goa. If Lobera continues using the 4-2-3-1 formation, the double pivot belongs to these two players. With a better defense and a better forward line than last season, Jahouh and Borges should embark on a personal crusade to give the city of Mumbai its first trophy in 15 years.


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Harsh Murarka
A Mumbai City FC and Indian football supporter. Liked sports, wrote fairly decent, and turned into a part time football writer in a matter of time. Couldn't have had it better.

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