After an emotional departure from Chennaiyin, Jeje eyes return to match fitness

After two Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) trophies and plenty of memorable moments with Chennaiyin FC, Jeje Lalpekhlua has decided to look for a new challenge in Indian football. In an interview with Times of India, the Mizo Sniper, who recently announced his departure from Chennaiyin on social media, spoke about the reason behind his decision while sharing his feelings for the club.

“This (Leaving Chennaiyin) has been a very, very difficult decision. That’s life, though. I will miss the club and the fans a lot. I am now looking forward to my next assignment,” Jeje said.

During his time with the Marina Machans, Jeje scored 23 goals while providing seven assists in 69 matches and is the highest goal-scorer for the Chennai-based club. A serious injury to the India international meant that he missed the entirety of last season. A comeback during the AFC Asian Cup and FIFA World Cup joint qualifiers was in the pipeline but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed his plans back.

“I was excited to be back (with the national team) after a long gap, but the circumstances are such that none of us can complain. I need to accept this,” said the 29-year-old forward. “It’s really difficult to be out. At the start of the season, I was forced to watch ISL on television and it was difficult to see Chennaiyin struggle. I had to put the TV off several times, until Owen (Coyle) sparked a turnaround. I missed playing a lot.”

However, Jeje didn’t let the injury dampen his spirit too much and has begun preparations to return to fitness in his hometown. “I’ve played two friendly district matches already. There are talks with some clubs, nothing decided yet. I hope to announce soon. Right now, there is no hurry,” he said giving an insight into his future plans.

“Now, my aim is to get back on the field and start scoring again. I need match fitness and I am sure I won’t disappoint anyone. I’ve missed football, and this has motivated me to work harder than before,” Jeje added.

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