High intensity, fast thinking and no stopping: Mumbai City FC’s Apuia opens up on training stint in Belgium

Mumbai City FC midfielder Lalengmawia Ralte or Apuia as he is popularly known finished his two-week training stint with Belgian side Lommel SK and returned back to India enriched with the experience.

The 22-year-old who has emerged as one of the best midfielders in India thanks to his performances in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) got this opportunity through the City Football Group (CFG) which owns Mumbai City FC and Lommel SK.

The midfielder revealed the two weeks of training were an eye-opener for him as he was exposed to a different level of intensity in training.

“The intensity in training was of a different level, particularly with the kind of players that they have, almost all of them aged between 19 and 21,” Ralte told The Times of India in an interview.

“Everyone is young and fit, and the intensity is really high, and on a different level. I found it difficult at first, but after three-four days of training, I could cope. Even in training, you need to think fast. You hardly have any time,” he added.

Read: A look at Mumbai City FC’s fixture list in Hero ISL 2022-23

Ralte was awarded the Emerging Player of the League in Hero ISL 2020-21 and is now also a key component of Igor Stimac’s set up in the national side.

The Mizoram-born footballer also gained invaluable experience having interacted with a lot of youngsters that represent their national teams in Europe and a few others who train with La Liga clubs.

“It was a good experience to train with good young players from different countries who have already represented their countries at a young age. There’s a 17-year-old who plays for Hungary, a 19-year-old who represents Norway, another one from Costa Rica and quite a few from LaLiga. They are all good players,” he said.

After the training stint in Belgium, Ralte is keen on working harder and securing a move abroad to further develop his skills. With the backing of CFG, the 22-year-old feels there is a chance for him if he continues to work hard and improve his skill set.

“Whether I can play abroad, depends entirely on me. If I am not able to cope with different styles in another country, then the club cannot push me. I will try my best to go to another club. I hope it will happen soon, and when it happens, I will be ready. I know what to expect now and will be ready to play in different countries,” said Ralte.

The midfielder will now focus his attention on the upcoming Hero ISL season where he will try and help Mumbai City FC regain the Hero ISL title and the Lague Winners’ Shield that they won in the 2020-21 campaign.

The Islanders who reached the final of the Durand Cup will begin their Hero ISL 2022-23 campaign with a tough away trip to defending champions Hyderabad FC on October 9.

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