He dazzled in his first tournament by striking a hat-trick against Pakistan. Jeje Lalpekhlua was 19 then and despite his goal-scoring prowess, he was not able to establish himself in the Indian team. But that changed in 2015 when he and Sunil Chhetri combination started to click.
"I played with Sunil-bhai when I made my debut. Since then we have been playing together. I feel, together we fit in well, and complement each other's styles," Jeje stated.
"He is a gem of a person and an inspirational player. He has helped me a lot on, and off the field. We have a telepathic understanding on the pitch. I know where he is, and he always knows where I am,” he also said.
India takes on Thailand in its opening match of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 and Jeje sounded confident. "This team is a strong one as we have put in a lot of good work so far. We are confident in our abilities and feel that we can take on any challenge,” he said.
According to Jeje, the team's progress has been steady and it is there for everyone to see. "Compared to back when I made my debut, there is a lot of difference in the National team. With every match, we have been getting better and have achieved a lot in between," he felt.
“I'm very happy to be a part of this team. We worked hard to qualify for the Asian Cup. It is the biggest tournament for us, almost like a World Cup. We hope to do well, and strive for bigger things. In fact, there is still a lot we can do and the AFC Asian Cup is the next step along the way," he said.
On coach Constantine's role. "The entire team has put in a lot of hard work. He has had the most crucial role to play. When he came in, he had told us that our target was to qualify for the Asian Cup, and we did it.”
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