06 Jun 2023  |   05:29am IST

Borges aims for place in India XI

Borges aims for place in India XI

AGENCIES, BHUBANESWAR: In the 2015 SAFF Championship in Thiruvananthapuram, India found themselves a goal down after just three minutes against Nepal. 

With the hosts' attack force not being able to do the needful in the first half, an unlikely hero emerged. A 23-year-old Rowllin Borges rifled a loose ball in the area straight into the roof of the net, thus bringing India level.

A stunning finish and a fitting one for Borges' first-ever international goal for India. He raced towards the corner flag, made a heart with his hands and passionately kissed the India badge on his jersey.

On Monday, Borges celebrated his 31st birthday, surrounded by his Blue Tigers teammates. Also, a cause for celebration is his return to the national camp after more than two years. He last donned the blue of India in a 1-1 draw in a friendly against Oman in March 2021.

"It always feels good to be part of the national team. Being back in the India camp after my injury was one of my targets. But only half of the target is fulfilled at the moment, as I've to keep working hard to earn my place in the playing squad," he said.

With head coach Igor Stimac claiming he wants to see Borges back to his best with the national team, the midfielder is intent on proving him right. After all, when you're out of the camp for a couple of years, the hunger to excel is bound to be greater than ever.

"The coach has confidence in me which is why he has brought me into this camp, and now it's on me to repay his trust on the training pitch. I need to be better every day so that I can give him whatever he wants from me and play however he wants me to," Borges said.

 The Nuvem-born player, of course, has eyes on the big event – the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar next year. A member of the team who suffered a heartbreaking end to the 2019 campaign in the UAE, Borges believes it is the perfect time for him to be back in the mix to make the final squad again and right the wrongs.

"Whenever you play for the national team, no matter if it's a friendly or a tournament or a qualifier, it's a great feeling. The excitement and the energy levels are much higher. As of now, our focus is more on the  Intercontinental Cup. But of course, we want to win and retain the SAFF title we won in Maldives in 2021. I would love to win it again," he added.

"My journey in the Indian national team has been great so far. But it does not stop here as I'm still learning and constantly working hard," Borges concluded.


Iddhar Udhar