Lallianzuala Chhangte interview: I will try to perform even better than last season
Although he is yet to open his account for the season, Lallianzuala Chhangte's contributions for Mumbai City FC have been invaluable in the ongoing ISL season.
Indian Super League (ISL) club Mumbai City FC had an outstanding campaign in the previous ISL season, clinching the League Shield, and they have started the current season on a promising note. Currently, they sit second in the ISL 2023-24 league table, with two wins and a draw after three games. Among the three teams yet to taste defeat this season, one of the driving forces behind their strong start is Lallianzuala Chhangte.
Chhangte has delivered impressive performances in every game this season, showcasing his exceptional work rate, link-up play, and ability to create space for his teammates. Although he is yet to open his account for the season, his contributions to the team have been invaluable.
Last season, Chhangte was honored with the ISL Golden Ball after contributing 10 goals and six assists during Mumbai City FC’s League Shield triumph. He also claimed the title of the highest-scoring Indian player, capping off a stellar season for him.
This ISL Shield was a significant milestone for Chhangte, who had come close to winning the ISL Cup with Chennaiyin FC in the 2019-20 season, ending as runners-up.
"It was an amazing season (for me in 2022-23). It is a blessing from God. Credit goes to my family as they have been supporting me since I was a child and I will never forget what they have done for me because they believed in me even during my hardest times," Chhangte said in an interview with the indiansuperleague.com earlier.
The 2022-23 season proved to be Chhangte's most productive in terms of goal contributions. He finished as the second-highest goal contributor for the Islanders last season, scoring several crucial goals for the team.
Chhangte embarked on his ISL journey with NorthEast United FC, leaving a mark at Delhi Dynamos FC and Chennaiyin FC. After a stint with Chennaiyin FC in the 2019-20 season, where he initially struggled to regain his form, everything changed when he joined Mumbai City FC.
Following a loan spell during the 2021-22 season, Chhangte elevated his game at Mumbai City FC, thriving under the guidance of head coach Des Buckingham. The winger believes that this is just the beginning of something special.
"I think I am able to reach this level because of the help from my teammates and certain coaches who played an important role and of course Mumbai City FC have built me on another level. I think this is just the beginning of a long journey I am about to take."
Chhangte now stands as the second-highest all-time Indian goalscorer in the ISL, following in the footsteps of Sunil Chhetri. While he became only the second Indian to win the ISL Golden Ball after Chhetri last season, Chhangte remains driven and refuses to rest on his laurels.
"It adds some more pressure and a big responsibility comes along with individual and collective trophies but this is a motivation for me to work harder than before. I know what I have to do. I want to be an example for my colleagues, my teammates and especially for the younger players. I will try to be an example on and off the pitch and work harder than before."
He added: "It is really important to be consistent and that is what I will try to do. I know it is not going to be easy because other teams are getting good players but we have a brilliant team this year and with the help of my teammates I will try to work harder than last year and perform even better than last season. We will do our best individually and collectively to achieve what we could not achieve last year."
Des Buckingham transformed Mumbai City FC into an attacking and captivating side during the ISL 2022-23 season. Under his leadership, the Islanders embarked on an 18-game unbeaten streak, ultimately securing the League Shield in dominant fashion. Speaking about the influence of Buckingham's philosophy on his game, Chhangte expressed his appreciation for the trust and belief the coach instils in him.
"I think I made the right decision when I joined Mumbai City FC. I am not the strongest guy. I have to find where I am fitting and Mumbai City FC have given me an opportunity to join the club and to play and so huge credit to coach Des. He was trusting me and encouraging me to believe in myself, believe in my ability and this is what keeps me going. So, it is all about continuing the good work," he remarked.
Speaking on the possible areas of improvement for himself, Chhangte recognised the need to enhance his decision-making in the final third and is committed to making a difference, both individually and as part of the team.
"I think the best is yet to come, even though we had an amazing season. Making decisions in the final third is where I need to improve a lot. Yes we have had an amazing season but I think we could have done better. I hope and strongly believe that we will do better this year, individually and collectively," he signed off.