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I-League 2018-19: Chennai City's Gaurav Bora may be lording over Opponents, but says it's not easy to get into Indian National Team

09 Feb 2019, 13:26 IST

Gaurav Bora (right) of Chennai City in a tussle with East Bengal's Jobby Justin
Gaurav Bora (right) of Chennai City in a tussle with East Bengal's Jobby Justin

Gaurav Bora, the 20-year-old footballer for Chennai City FC has been a revelation this season and has played a crucial role in Chennai City FC's rise to the top of the I-League.

Bora has fascinated one and all with his jaw-dropping defensive abilities. He has excellent ball control skills and has the potential to stop the momentum of the opposition through his timely tackles and positional awareness. Bora is also a great playmaker and has been a worthy asset for CCFC.

He was a part of Pune City U-18 as well as Pune City B squad before making a move to Chennai City FC on loan in 2018. The versatile player has grown leaps and bounds in the past few years and is highly regarded by the football fraternity.

Sportskeeda caught up with the midfielder for an exclusive interview. Here are some of the excerpts:

You started this I-League as a midfielder in the first few games and later became a full-back. How did you adapt to the position? How has the coach backed you?

Yes, I started this season as a Midfielder but the coach put me in the defence. For me, I will play wherever the coach wants me to play because I am able to help the team. To be a part of this team and to play in the Starting XI is a big opportunity for me.

Coach Akbar and assistant coach Bala have given me a lot of confidence and taught me the role and responsibilities of that position. They have also helped me learn the style of football we play and always pushed me and taught me what to do in different situations of the game. My teammates too have been very supportive through this transition.

At the age of just 20, you have caught the attention of the Indian football fraternity. How do you feel about this?

Now it's not about age. I don't want to look at my age and be satisfied. I have a lot of things to learn and grow as a footballer.


You have been solid in the defence for Chennai City FC. How do you prepare for that? How well do you communicate with your defensive partners?

It's all because of my teammates and our coaches. They guide me very well and make me understand what they want from me.

My defensive partner, Roberto Eslava, has been guiding me throughout the season about what to do. He has also taught some key points of defending and tackling and also Ajith Kamaraj is also a great player.

Edwin Sydney Vanspaul, who has tremendous experience, guides me and motivates me to give my best every time and our goalkeeper Nauzet Garcia is always full of motivation and very positive every time. We all work as one unit helping each other.

Chennai City FC has had a stellar season under Akbar Nawas. What is the secret behind this?

It's all the hard work and motivation and true character on and off the pitch from all those who are part of CCFC. The style of football the coach has brought in has led us here. The way all the players have adapted to the style and worked together with all the Spanish players is amazing.

What does the coach expect from you? How is he as a person? 

The coach asks me to keep the ball moving and to play instead of kicking in the air unnecessarily. He wants to move the ball in the ground and fast. He asks me to play more forward passes whenever possible.

If that's difficult, then I can play side or keeper and not lose the ball under pressure and try to play 1 or 2 touches and try to get out from the tight situation.

He is a very nice person always smiling, making jokes, helping everyone deal with the problems related to football. He also understands each player very well. He always works on his laptop too.

Bora during a friendly against Bengaluru FC
Bora during a friendly against Bengaluru FC

What are your personal goals for the season?

 I want to stay at the top of the league after every week's game until the end of the season.

Tell us about your family.

It's me, my father and my mother. They are always very supportive, especially my mother. They try to give me everything that I ask for from the start and help me when my days don't go well. They both are the best and I can't tell enough of what they have done for me. And a lot of my childhood friends who are always there for me, they are my family as well.

Several football pundits have backed for your inclusion in India's defensive setup. How do you feel about this?

I think I will have to continue working hard and give my best every time I get the opportunity to play because it's not easy to get there in the national team and to play for the country.

In the cricket-dominated City of Delhi, what inspired you to take up football as your career?

I am basically from Assam. Football was always there and has a special place in my heart. When I moved to Delhi and when I was attending my first day in school, it was announced in the assembly that four boys who are Rakshit Dagar (East Bengal), Munmun Timothy (Mumbai City FC), Anuj Kumar (FC Pune City), Mukesh Kumar were travelling to England to play football and that's where everything started and I felt that maybe I can travel abroad to play someday.

My school CRPF Public School Delhi has been doing very well in football at the school level. The success of our football team can be credited to the coach Mr Sunil Patwal. I moved to the hostel and everyone was very passionate about football there.

I started to play and luckily one day I got a chance to be in the team and from then till here, it's been an amazing journey.

How did your career take off?

I studied in a boarding school named CRPF Public School in Delhi and everyone in the hostel was football fans and loved watching and playing football. I started to play for my school team and my first tournament was Subroto cup.

Our coach and my mentor Mr Sunil Patwal asked me to join BBFS (Bhaichung Bhutia Football School) and I started training there. Jose Antonio was our coach there and he was a great coach. He helped me with the basics of football and always pushed me to do better every time.

After some time, I got selected for the Nationals and I played for Delhi at the Nationals. One fine day, coach Naushad Moosa came to BBFS and selected me and Ashish Rai and asked us to come to Pune FC for further trials.

We both got selected there as well. At the academy there, my coaches Naushad Moosa, Sujay Sharma, Mohan Dass and Rakesh helped me to improve. Then FC Pune City took over and I played under coach Roger Lamesa.

He helped me a lot when I was struggling in the past years. He helped me improve my game and always pushed me to do better. We won the IFA Shield under him, which is one of the most important and cherishable memories of my life and an important shield in my career.

Then FC Pune City sent me on loan to Chennai City FC last year. CCFC was my first ever I league team and I made a lot of memories here. This year too, FC Pune City loaned me out and I decided to come here and play as I already knew coach Akbar Nawas and everyone who were here last year as well. And it's been amazing till now.

Gaurav Bora
Gaurav Bora

Pune City has been the base of your footballing career. How was it to play for their B side?

FC Pune City is an important part of my journey. They have always wanted the best out of me and helped me always.

Mr Gaurav Modwel (CEO) and Mr Tejas Goradia (COO) have always been pushing me to do more and get better. Playing for the B team helped me to improve as coach Roger Lamesa was also there helping me. We mostly did our pre-season with the main team, which benefits me and helps me grow as a player

The fans in Coimbatore have been passionate and supportive of the team. What message would you like to give them?

They are the best fans. I just want to thank all the people who show up on the game days to support, meet, text and cheer us. It's amazing and the Roaring Lions, especially, deserves a special mention. You guys are fantastic and please continue to support us and we will deliver our best on the field.

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