‘Mature man’ Chhangte ready for the road ahead
DOHA (QATAR) — Lallianzuala Chhangte is a man resurrected. In the international arena. Since his debut as a teenager in 2015, the 26-year-old has been erratically a part of the National Team; until 2023.
Over the last couple of years, the diminutive winger has put in some inspiring performances that have now made him a key member of the Blue Tigers’ squad. While Chhangte had missed selection for the final squad for the Asian Cup in 2019, his selection for the 2023 edition came as no surprise to anyone.
“I’m really excited and looking forward to it,” beamed Chhangte, speaking to the-aiff.com.
“It’s an honour to be able to represent my country at the highest level. I could not make it to the final squad in 2019, so it really is a dream come true for me to be here now.”
Chhangte has had a phase of his career where he’s had to go through a trial by fire, juggling rejections and injuries at the same time. However, it is an experience that the 26-year-old believes has made him what he is today – a “mature” man.
“I’ve been more mature as a player and a human being in the last few years, and I think that’s what has helped me get to this stage at the moment,” he said. “Mostly during the hard times when I would be dropped from the team or suffer injuries (in 2021), I learned so many lessons. It was a very hard time, but it helped me focus on the important things and become a better human.
“I would not be the player I am today, had I not experienced them,” he said. “I’m much clearer in my mind about what I have to do.”
Chhangte has played at some of the biggest stages for both club and country in 2023, an experience that he feels puts him in good stead ahead of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023.
Not only did he play a crucial role in helping India win three international trophies, the Tri-Nation Cup, the Intercontinental Cup, and the SAFF Championship last year, but he also represented his club Mumbai City FC in the AFC Champions League last year, facing some of the best teams in West Asia, like Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia), Nassaji Mazandaran (Iran), and PFC Navbahor (Uzbekistan).
“You want to look back at the end of your career, and you want to say that you played at the highest level. These memories will stay with you forever. I am really fortunate to have had these experiences and to be a part of this Asian Cup squad. It’s a really big thing for me,” he said. “Having played in the AFC Champions League gave me a feel for how it could be against teams like Australia, Uzbekistan and Syria. We know what to expect and how we need to approach such games. I feel stronger mentally because of them,” said Chhangte.