18-year-old Raphael Borges Rodrigues was handed a start by Patrick Kisnorbo in Melbourne City’s FFA Cup match against Hume City, and produced a Man of the Match performance.
It is no secret that Melbourne City possesses an embarrassment of riches when it comes to attacking talent. Jamie Maclaren, Andrew Nabbout, and Mathew Leckie headline City’s attack.
But while the first team is littered with stars, several young players are making a name for themselves. Most notably are Marco Tilio, Connor Metcalfe and Stefan Colakovski, playing pivotal roles in City’s maiden title win last season.
However, the club may have just unearthed another gem after its 1-0 win in last night’s FFA Cup match.
Another future star emerges for Melbourne City
Raphael Borges Rodrigues, the son of former Adelaide United star Cristiano, put on a show in his first start of the year.
Having made his debut last season at just 17, Rodrigues, like many other youngsters, has had to bide his time when it comes to minutes. When he gets the chance, he needs to make the most of it. Last night he more than did that.
In a game that featured several young players such as Taras Gomulka, Anthony Lesiotis, Jordan Bos, and Kerrin Stokes, it was the speedy winger who stole the show.
The 18-year-old was a constant menace for Hume. Linking up well with the likes of Manuel Pucciarelli and Stokes on the right-hand side. His pace, power, and willingness to drive at defenders put the home side on the back foot as he was a consistent threat going forward.
He played with assurance in his abilities as he went close to scoring several times in a superb performance. His physicality is something that perhaps goes unnoticed, but he used his frame to his advantage last night to win City a penalty early in the first half.
Just nine minutes in, Borges Rodrigues made a driving run and was picked out with a neat ball by Pucciarelli. He then knocked the ball around his defender and positioned himself in front before being taken down in the box. Unfortunately, Marco Tilio blazed his effort wide.
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Borges Rodrigues has given City coach Patrick Kisnorbo some food for thought. Already with the likes of Tilio, Colakovski, and Nathaniel Atkinson waiting in the wings, he has put his name forward as one to think about regarding team selection.
The FFA Cup has proven to be a valuable competition for Australian football. It allows amateur teams to test themselves against clubs in elite competition. But more importantly, it gives fringe players a chance to stake their claim.
While only 18 years of age, Borges Rodrigues did his chances of earning more minutes no harm as he produced a well-rounded performance. The only thing missing was a goal.
Though not likely to get a starting birth, such is City’s attacking prowess, he has put his best foot forward in what was a superb showing from yet another City youngster.
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