Durand Cup: Mumbai City’s Chhangte has eyes set on title; says personal goals secondary

Despite entering the Durand Cup 2022 knockouts as the tournament’s top scorer, Chhangte says his focus is on helping Mumbai City lifts its first title and not on the Golden Boot.

Lallianzuala Chhangte has played a crucial role in the Islanders’ journey to the Durand Cup knockouts with his five goals, which helped Mumbai finish top of Group B with seven points.

Lallianzuala Chhangte has played a crucial role in the Islanders’ journey to the Durand Cup knockouts with his five goals, which helped Mumbai finish top of Group B with seven points. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Despite entering the Durand Cup 2022 knockouts as the tournament’s top scorer, Chhangte says his focus is on helping Mumbai City lifts its first title and not on the Golden Boot.

Mumbai City FC’s Lallianzuala Chhangte will head into his team’s Durand Cup quarterfinal tie against Chennaiyin FC as the top scorer of the competition with five goals. But personal accolades are hardly a concern for the 25-year-old forward from Mizoram.

Last season, FC Goa scripted history by winning its first Durand Cup title.

This season, Mumbai stands at a similar threshold but the battle is far from over and standing in its immediate way are the resolute Marina Machans.

“I don’t feel any added pressure of being the top scorer because the team comes first. Winning the Golden Boot will feel good but the Durand Cop trophy is most important,” says Chhangte in a chat with  Sportstar ahead of Mumbai’s quarters match against Chennaiyin on Sunday, September 11.

“We are well aware that anything can happen in football and we need to be prepared for any situation. We have a set game plan so it is important to stick to that and go forward.“

—  Lallianzuala Chhangte, Mumbai City FC

A lot of teams have used the Durand Cup as a litmus test to gauge various aspects like squad strength, and squad depth and to scan potential youth players who can play a major part throughout the season.

Mumbai City, however, has fielded its big guns, making the intention very clear from the onset of the competition.

Chhangte has played a crucial role in the Islanders’ journey to the Durand Cup knockouts with his five goals, which helped Mumbai finish top of Group B with seven points.

Despite a good performance in the group stage, Chhangte refuses to look back and says that his team is in the deep end of the pool right now- for him, the real challenge begins now.

“The mood is good inside the camp right after the group stage but we are very careful. We are playing a good opponent [Chennaiyin FC] in the quarterfinals and the team is taking things very seriously. This competition is not only a good preparation for the Indian Super League [ISL] but we want to win it,” says Chhangte. 

If the pressure of playing the first knockout match wasn’t enough for Chhangte, he has to do that against his former team- Chennaiyin FC.

The forward says that it is difficult to completely negate the emotional aspect of playing against a former team but stresses that he is, “physically and mentally prepared as an individual” to perform his part and “it is all about Mumbai City FC right now.” 

Complacency- the biggest vice  

When teams announced their squads for the Durand Cup, Mumbai City was touted as an early favourite. But before the quarterfinal, Chhante ruled underlined that football is a game of uncertainties.

Chhangte celebrates scoring for Mumbai City FC in the Durand Cup 2022.

Chhangte celebrates scoring for Mumbai City FC in the Durand Cup 2022. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“We got a good lesson in the East Bengal match that no win is guaranteed. We made mistakes but we have identified them. Now, it is time to rectify the mistakes and turn the negatives into positives in the Chennaiyin match,” he says.

“We are well aware that anything can happen in football and we need to be prepared for any situation. We have a set game plan so it is important to stick to that and go forward.“

“Initially, we struggled a bit talking to the new foreigners but as the pre-season went on, we started communicating and gelling well. Players like Greg [Stewart], Diaz [Jorge Pereyra] bring a lot of experience with them, which is helpful, especially for the young players,” adds the former Chennaiyin FC winger.

Looking forward to better times

Talking about the upcoming ISL season, Chhangte welcomes the change in structure that would see matches being more spread out to avoid fixture congestion.

“It is good for the players and for the coaches as well. As players, playing on weekends will mean we would get proper time to rest and recover, which would increase our output in the matches we play. The coaches, also, will have more time to work on their game plan.”

Chhangte says the biggest positive of returning to the original format is the return of fans and that he is eagerly waiting to play in front of the Mumbai City FC faithful.

“Life in the bio-bubble was tiring but necessary. But with the normal format of home-away matches coming back, I really wish fans turn up in number and keep supporting us throughout the season.”

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