CHENNAI: Mumbai City FC’s thrill-a-minute winger Lallianzuala Chhangte is the kind of player who will take a yard if you give him an inch. Possessing unreal pace, the 24-yearold covers plenty of grass in the blink of an eye by turning on the afterburners. Chhangte chips in with goals and assists, with his numbers placing him in the group of promising Indian midfielders.
It is for these reasons that Mumbai City relentlessly chased the ‘Mizo Flash’ in the 2022 winter transfer window. MCFC ultimately succeeded in its pursuit, initially snapping him up on loan from fellow Indian Super League club Chennaiyin FC and recently tying him down for three years with a permanent deal.
While Mumbai City would be delighted at owning another hot property, the ‘Islanders’, spearheaded by chief coach Des Buckingham, will have the task of transforming Chhangte into a beast. The wideman is always considered a menace in the opposition box, but he definitely needs to polish up his final-third game to become a force.
And, Chhangte, well aware of the ink that has been spilled on the area of his play which requires improvement, is positive that Des would extract the best out of him. In a virtual chat with DT Next on Saturday, Chhangte spoke about improving his goal tally, the upcoming season, the latest contract and more.
On signing a three-year deal with Mumbai City FC
I think that Mumbai City is the best club for my future development. During my time here, I would like to win as many trophies as I can, both collectively and individually. I just want to give my best for the club and hopefully get back to the national team.
On whether he has already settled at the club
Of course, I have. I have known most of the Indian players in the squad for a long time now. The management and the coaching staff were good and kind to me during my loan spell.
On playing under head coach Des Buckingham
Des is a humble human being and a very good coach. He acts very professionally. He is the type of coach I wanted to work with. He trusts every player in the team and gives us confidence. I look forward to working with him for a long time.
On his ongoing off-season
For me, there is no off-season (laughs). I was just kidding. It has been going well. I have been doing exercises to keep my fitness level up. Our sports scientist sent us an assessment and informed us about what needs to be done. I have been following it every day. At the same time, I am spending quality time with my family, friends and loved ones.
On the upcoming domestic season
It (the longer window) is a good thing. It is one of the big steps that Indian football has taken. With more number of matches, young players, including me, will get more opportunities to express ourselves on the pitch. The season starts with the Durand Cup, which will be a good preparation for the ISL. But, I hope none of the players gets injured. Competing in three different competitions (Durand Cup, ISL and Super Cup) is better than fighting for titles in the ISL alone. I look forward to becoming a triple champion.
On improving his output in the top end of the pitch
Yes, of course. I can do much better and I will do it in the future. I need to get more confidence. By working with Des and the other staff, I think that I will be able to add more goals to my game next season. I am not satisfied with where I am. I have been working individually on my game, but the most important thing is to win three points for the team. Hopefully, in the future, I get more goals and assists.
On the ISL returning to the home-and-away format
I cannot wait to meet our fans, especially at the Mumbai Football Arena. When I played in Mumbai in the past, the West Coast Brigade (fan club) and the rest of the fans were amazing. As a player, I want to play in front of lots of fans, irrespective of whether it is at home or away. I think that we will be able to do it again this season. I am so excited.
On his two-and-a-half season stay at Chennaiyin FC
I had a very good time. I got to see the fans in my first season. Unfortunately, we could not continue playing in front of the fans [due to the COVID-19 pandemic]. I want to thank Chennaiyin for giving me the opportunity to express myself. I cannot thank it enough. Hopefully, I meet the fans when I come to Chennai and play against Chennaiyin.