Indian Football: Lallianzuala Chhangte on the verge of joining Eliteserien club Viking FK
After impressing in a very short two-day stint in February, Lallianzuala Chhangte was called up for yet another trial recently. In fact a week ago, the 22-year-old travelled to Norway for the one-week trial with Viking FK and the outcome seems to be a positive one. Chhangte is expected to complete his medical before signing for the club.
The deal couldn't be completed during the previous trial in February as a couple of hurdles came in the way for both the player and also Viking FK. While Delhi Dynamos couldn't afford to grant a bigger trial period to one of their key players at an important phase in the ISL season, Viking FK coach Bjarne Berntsen also had mixed views about Chhangte. Berntsen was impressed with Chhangte's skillset but wondered whether his club needed such a player at that point of time.
"Exciting. But the question is whether we need such a type of player now," Berntsen told the Aftenposten outlet.
The Mizoram-native came up the ranks through DSK Shivajians' youth setup before being called up for the Indian national team for the 2015 SAFF Championship. Chhangte, 18 years and 140 days old at that point of time, made an immediate impression with two goals against Nepal including an absolute stunner from the right flank. These two goals made him the third-youngest goals scorer for the Indian national team after Jerry Zirsanga and Bhaichung Bhutia.
Since then, he has gone onto regularly impress at the club level. After having signed a two-year contract for Delhi Dynamos in 2017, Chhangte scored eight goals in his 38 appearances for the club. He is regarded as one of the quickest Indian footballers and had even recorded a top speed of 35.80 in a match against FC Pune City in the 2017 ISL season. Chhangte's association with Delhi came to end in May as Delhi didn't give him a contract extension. As a result, he is a free agent now.
If Viking FK finalises the deal with Chhangte, it will be the second time an Indian player would play for a Norwegian club in recent years. India's premier goal-keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu had also plied his trade for Eliterserien outfit Stabaek FC during a three-year stint and even went on to feature in the qualification round for the UEFA Europa League.
It remains to be seen whether Chhangte would get enough game-time for Viking FK considering that he is close to being a starter for the Indian national team with the FIFA World Cup qualifiers set to get underway in a weeks time. This was something that Gurpreet struggled with during his stay in Norway.
All said and done, Gurpreet came back to India as a much-improved player because of his experience in Norway.