Senior National Team
Lallianzuala Chhangte thrilled at Imphal turnout
25 Mar 2023

The Federation, as per its objectives in Vision 2047, has begun the process of maximising the International windows in order to give more international exposure to our players. is currently present in Imphal to follow the progress of the Senior Men's National Team in the Hero Tri-Nation International Football Tournament.

Soumo Ghosh
AIFF Media Team

IMPHAL: It seems only a few years ago that a nimble-footed 18-year-old burst on to the scene for India, coming off from the bench to net a brace against Nepal on his debut at the Trivandrum International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram in the 2015 SAFF Championship.

As vivid as that memory may be, eight years’ worth of water has flown under countless bridges across the country, as the now 25-year-old finds himself one of the regulars in the Blue Tigers setup.

“That was a long time ago, but it still feels special every time I walk out on the pitch for India. It takes a lot to keep playing at this level for a long time,” sighs the winger. “I was one of the shortest players on the pitch back then, and was not always able to cope with physically imposing opponents in International football.

“It has been hard to build myself to keep competing at this level, but the rewards have been sweet,” he reminisced. “Of course, I’ve had a lot of help from my seniors, so I’ve always know what I needed to do. It’s been countless hours in the gym to make sure I can stand up to those imposing bodies, and so many hours on the training grounds to sharpen my skills.”

The nippy winger is one of the top footballers from his state Mizoram, but he attributes it all to another former Blue Tigers great, one who had absolutely terrorised opposition defenders in his playing days.

“Jeje (Lalpekhlua) is also a big inspiration for me. We are from the same village (Lunglei), and he’s just been such a great mentor both on and off the field. Of course, he recently ended his footballing career, and what a career it has been,” said Chhangte. “He’s also done so much work for the community in our village. Everyone looks up to him.

“I must also mention my mother, who encouraged me to keep playing football even whether parents told their children to focus on studies. She has been a pillar to lean on for me.”

One of the starters in India’s first match against Myanmar at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal in the Hero Tri-Nation International Football Tournament, Chhangte was positively enamoured by the reception the Blue Tigers have received in the Manipur capital.

“It really felt like a special moment in the first match. Not a single empty seat was seen, the Chief Minister turned up and said some inspiring words,” overall, we could really feel how Manipur made us all feel at home,” he said. “I hope we get the same number of fans or even more in the match against Kyrgyz Republic.”

India earned a 1-0 victory against Myanmar in the first match, a game that could have seen the Blue Tigers win by a bigger margin. Chhangte believes that Kyrgyz Republic will be a tougher proposition for the Blue Tigers, though they are fully prepared for the challenge.

“Kyrgyz Republic are a very good team. We have had good matches against them in the past. They (94) are of course higher ranked than us (106). But we are prepared to do our best. The boys are in great shape, both physically and mentally, and I hope that we have a great match,” he said.

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