Jeje Lalpekhlua hopes Mohun Bagan and East Bengal can soon be a part of ISL

Jeje Lalpekhlua hopes Mohun Bagan and East Bengal can soon be a part of ISL

first_imgThe Indian Super League (ISL), India’s top football league, is in its fifth season. The ISL season 5 started on September 29 and after nine days of daily football, international break arrived.The ISL has 10 teams participating — ATK, Bengaluru FC, Chennaiyin FC, Delhi Dynamos, FC Goa, FC Pune City, Jamshedpur FC, Kerala Blasters, Mumbai City FC and NorthEast United.On the other hand, another top-tier Indian football league I-League is set to begin on October 26 with 11 teams — Aizawl FC, Chennai City, Churchill Brothers, East Bengal, Gokulam Kerala, Indian Arrows, Minerva Punjab, Mohun Bagan, NEROCA, Real Kashmir and Shillong Lajong.Also Read – Balwant Singh drops out of China vs India due to passport issuesIndian national team striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, who played for Mohun Bagan in 2014 and then again was loaned to Bagan by Chennaiyin FC for 2015-16 I-League campaign, said he missed Mohun Bagan and wished that Bagan and East Bengal would soon join ISL.He felt that without these two historic clubs, Indian football cannot proceed.Also Read – Just be humble: Sandesh Jhingan’s advice to young Indian players”Yes, of course, I hope [merger of ISL and I-League] because East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are huge. In Indian football, you can’t proceed without these two clubs. Yes, of course, if these two are coming than it’s going to be good for Indian football and for ISL. Yes, I have enjoyed a lot [in Mohun Bagan], three years I have played in Kolkata. I miss Mohun Bagan a lot. And I hope they can come up for ISL. Right now I have contract with Chennai [so nothing about joining Bagan]. In the future, I don’t know, let’s see,” Jeje said at the sidelines of the two-day national camp in New Delhi ahead of China vs India friendly.advertisementAlso read – China recently beat India’s Asian Cup groupmate: Jhingan, Jeje await tough friendlyFor over two years now, the merger of ISL and I-League has been one of the hottest topics in Indian football yet there is still nothing concrete on the merger yet even though FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) are reportedly putting pressure on All Indian Football Federation.Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, two of the most famous clubs in Indian football history, have not been able to enter the ISL due to functional and monetary issues even though six-year-old Bengaluru FC have made the advancement.Also read – Aim to break into top 10 in Asia first, World Cup later: Sunil ChhetriJeje is a two-time ISL winner with Chennaiyin FC and this year they are the defending champions. However, they have not had a good start to the season. Chennaiyin have lost both their first two matches against Bengaluru FC and FC Goa.”Yes, right now at Chennaiyin FC, we lost a lot. This is not what we want but I hope we improve and we have more games to go. Hope we can improve for the next games. But now this is international break, I hope we can do well and take something from this game.”WATCH – India sweat it out at the JLN stadium as tough China test awaitsJeje’s Chennaiyin are one of the few teams in the ISL this season, who do not have a Spanish coach. Like ATK who have Steve Coppell, Chennaiyin FC also have an English coach in John Gregory.Jeje said that the style of football at Chennaiyin and the Indian national team is different but he looks to adapt and win all the games. In terms of the game play, Jeje said he is comfortable to playing any style that a match demands.”As a player like our Chennai coach is English so it’s different but most teams have Spanish coaches but it’s about whatever the coach wants you to play. I play what the coach wants at the club and when we come to the national team, the coach wants something completely different but the main thing is winning the game and all the coaches want to win the game so that’s like it.”It depends on the match situation [what style of play he prefers]. If the defender can send a great through ball, it’s good for me, as long as the ball is good.”Jeje also had words of praise for the under-23 team, who finished runners-up at the SAFF Championships, losing 2-1 to Maldives in the final. Anirudh Thapa he felt was one of the brightest young talents in India.”I wasn’t in the SAFF Cup final but I think the boys did really well. They went to the final and lost it but it happens in football but I think they played really well.advertisement’He’s (Thapa) a good player and nice person. I see in last two years, he’s improving in so many ways with his gameplay, on the field and off the field. And I think he did well in SAFF Cup and I hope he can continue for the senior team and I hope for his future as he’s one of the best juniors in our country.”Even national coach Stephen Constantine felt that the U-23 players showed excellent character at the SAFF Cup and this is why he called 13 of them for the national camp ahead of China vs India friendly.”I took an U-23 side to the SAFF Cup and I don’t know too many people who would do that. And I did it for a specific reason because otherwise those players wouldn’t be here. They are in the training because I saw them against Maldives, I saw them against Pakistan, in the final, where there’s pressure. The Pakistan game was a huge game for these young boys and they did very well. You can only find out about a player when he is under pressure and this is what we try to do.”There’s 13 of them [U-23s] in there [in training]. Look, I believe in building for the future, this is what I came to do when I started and we’ve given 44 debuts in the last almost four years and more than 50 per cent of them have been U-23. So, it’s good for Indian football for the future and we hope that more youngsters are coming, original age by the way, into the leagues so that we can use these players. I don’t care how old they are, the only thing is how good they are,” Constantine explained.last_img

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