YANGON: More than after a year, striker Jeje Lalpekhlua is back to ‘where he belongs,’ to the National Squad.
Since his ankle injury, Jeje, touted as the most exciting prospect in Indian Football, says he has seen the worst of times. In his first interview since getting a call back into the National squad, the Mizo striker speaks as length to www.the-aiff.com about the phase which he wants to forgets fast, his immediate targets, his improvement under Wim Koevermans and much more. EXCERPTS:
How is it to be back in the National squad?
Every player sweats it hard to be here. It feels nice and makes me more confident as a player that I am back in the National squad after more than a year. My ankle injury had kept me out of the AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal in March 2012 and since then it has been a battle, more within my own self to be back.
I see this as a new beginning and will work harder and wait for my chance.
How did you motivate yourself when you were hit by injury and simultaneously out of the Senior squad?
Football motivated me more than anything else. I just wanted to be back playing again for my club. More than the physical aspect, an injury hits you hard mentally as a player. You start thinking that you won’t ever have the strength to be back. Serious doubts kept creeping in. But at the same time, it makes you tougher as a player as you have already seen the worst of times.
This is the first time you are in the squad under Wim Koevermans. How do you see him from close?
The first and foremost thing that will appeal to you is his nature. I’d say, as much he is a Coach, he is simultaneously a true gentleman and a very caring human being. That’s an extraordinary and a very rare combination, I must say.
Technically, he has fine-tuned me a lot. He explained to me as to how I could be sharper with my turning and off-the-ball play. I like his style a lot.
What are your targets?
As a striker, I’d say to score as many goals as possible. But the AFC Challenge Cup 2014 (Qualifiers) stay the immediate target — not only for me but for the entire contingent. We are a good unit and need believe in ourselves.
You have played against Chinese Taipei and Myanmar in the recent past. What can we expect from them?
I made my Senior India debut against Chinese Taipei in the AFC Challenge Cup in Malaysia in 2011. I remember scoring in the match as we won 2-1. Then, in the U-23 Olympic Qualifiers, I scored against Myanmar in Pune as we went on to win 2-1. I can tell you, both of the teams are very competitive ones and would pose a huge threat. And there’s Guam too.
The Coach has shown us some videos and we need to stick to his plans.
By Nilanjan Datta,
AIFF Media Team