Jeje collects 2016 Player of the Year award at inaugural AIFF awards
Football’s governing body in India, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) celebrated their inaugural awards night in a splendid ceremony at Mumbai on Thursday. The function was attended by the entire national squad, head coach Stephen Constantine, president of the AIFF Shri Praful Patel, AIFF general secretary Shri Kushal Das and AIFF vice president Subrata Dutta.
Jeje Lalpekhlua was rewarded for his fine form and consistency in national colours as he bagged the 2016 AIFF Player of the Year for men. The 26-year-old has evolved into one of the most feared poachers in the Hero ISL and was pivotal in Chennaiyin FC’s title conquest in 2015. The Indian international is the highest scoring domestic player in league history with 13 goals besides also having six assists.
The 2016 AIFF Player of the Year for women, meanwhile, was handed to Sasmita Malik, while Sunil Chhetri, who is India’s top-scorer with 53 goals from 93 matches and the leading scorer in the National Football League and I-League combined, received a Special Award to commemorate him becoming the Blue Tigers’ leading goal-scorer.
Rowllin Borges was the recipient of the 2016 AIFF Emerging Player of the Year award and national team goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu also received a Special Award recognizing his time in Europe as skipper of Norwegian top-tier outfit Stabæk. Hero ISL 2016’s Emerging Player Jerry Lalrinzuala also picked up the Best Emerging Player of Hero I-League to cap off a truly spectacular breakthrough season that culminated in him making his debut for the national side in the friendly against Nepal earlier this week.
Speaking at the occasion, Shri Praful Patel commented: “This is a defining year for Indian football as we prepare to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup in less than 100 days. I am confident that with the guidance and support of the Union Government through the Ministry of Sports, we believe we will be able to host the best FIFA U-17 World Cup ever.
“Today is all the more important because we are celebrating those wonderful players and other key stakeholders of Indian football, without whose tireless efforts, we would not have reached such a stage. I congratulate all award winners for their immense contribution in growing the game in the country and wish them many more such recognitions in the future.”
Indian football has shown real signs of development of late with the senior side breaking into the top 100 for the first time in decades. Constantine and the AIFF will be hoping, India build on their recent form that has seen them go on a 7-match winning streak, when they entertain Kyrgyz Republic for their second 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Tuesday. The Blue Tigers opened their qualification campaign with a 1-0 win over Myanmar and will be looking to establish control of Group A by going top of the table with another victory.