Suman Chakravorty: Indian football team hasn’t been doing well in last few matches and after the arrival of their new head coach Igor Stimac in the ongoing Intercontinental Cup the Indian defense has conceded nine goals. Though India’s star striker Jeje Lalpekhlua wants to give the coach more time as he has only got four matches till now. Jeje is currently in rehab and in between that he talked with www.xtratime.in about the current Indian football team, Sunil Chhetri, on his fitness along with the future of Kolkata giants East Bengal & Mohun Bagan. Here goes the full interview:
XT: After Sunil’s retirement, you have to carry the baton of the national team for scoring goals. Are you ready for it?
Jeje: Yes I think it’s not only me, the team is important, everyone is important. Its not about just one person. I think a team is always important to do well.
XT: You have played under a lot of coaches. What’s your thought on Igor Stimac? He has been trying a lot of things in Indian football. Yes the results have stumbled in last four five games but he is building the team for the future. So how eager are you to play under him?
Jeje: I think right now he has taken the charge for just last four or five matches ago. You need to give him some time. I think the team is currently doing quite well in last couple of games but we aren’t getting the desired result. He just wants to make a good and young team. I think he is going to change the Indian football, let’s give him some time and he will deliver what we need. He hasn’t seen all the players properly as he got just four or five games.
XT: How do you rate Sunil Chhetri as your partner, footballer & Indian football icon?
Jeje: Sunil bhai is just like a friend & mentor to me. He is a very important member of the Indian football team. We are grateful that we play with him. Especially when we started playing together from 2012 we got chance to know each other very well. Whenever we play together we get more confidence, he knows what is my strength and he knows mine. That’s how we played together in our earlier games. He is very good person and a legend of Indian football as well.
XT: Can you speak about one characteristic that differentiate Sunil from others?
Jeje: He never gives up in any situation, I think that makes him different from others.
XT: Injuries are part and parcel of the game. The last season too wasn’t that well for you as per your standards. How tough was it for you when you were in the hospital?
Jeje: In last three or four years I played with a problem on my knee. After that I decided to undergo a surgery and thanks to god everything went well and hopefully I will be back soon. This is the time when I have to work very hard to make a good comeback.
XT: You have played for Mohun Bagan and won a I-League for them as well, on the flip side East Bengal too is doing well over the years. These two teams have been the heart of Indian football and we all know it. But now there is a point of concern about the future of these two teams as whether they will play in I-League or ISL. As a player what do you think, where should East Bengal and Mohun Bagan play?
Jeje: Yes of course both teams have been the heart of Indian football. I played in Kolkata for three years. I think both teams deserve to be there in the top league and in future hopefully we will see both the team’s in the top division.