The fourth edition of the Indian Super League is just a few days away from its opening game and fans are eagerly waiting for the action to kick-off on November 17. The new season promises to be bigger and better than the previous editions, with the increase in the number of fixtures and teams, as Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur FC get set to take their ISL bow.
The spotlight is likely to be focused on the marquee signings and the senior international players. However, the league will be an ideal platform for India's youngsters too as they will get to play and learn from their distinguished seniors and at the same time, have the opportunity to make themselves known to fans across the nation.
One such prodigious youngster is 20-year-old Lallianzuala Chhangte, who was the Delhi Dynamos' third pick in the ISL draft. A graduate from the DSK Shivajians' Liverpool International Acadamy, he already has four international caps to his name and burst on to the scene with a brace against Nepal in 2015 at the SAFF Cup, which included a thunderous effort from outside the penalty area and also made him the second-youngest goalscorer for the national team at the time.
He was part of the Northeast United FC squad in the previous edition of the ISL but did not get much game time, making just one appearance. However, this season he is eyeing a bigger role in a dynamic Delhi Dynamos side and will look to play a big hand in team's campaign.
Sportskeeda spoke to him in an exclusive interview, where he spoke about his I-League days, his famous goal and the season ahead. Here are a few excerpts!
Q) Firstly, with just a few days for the ISL to start, how are you feeling before the big season?
A) I'm very happy as the new season is about to start and I'm feeling very good. I am ready to help the team in any way possible and hope to do my best.
Q) How was your preseason experience with the club and how are you gelling in with your teammates?
A) Of course, we are gelling wonderfully as a team. There is great bonding already between young players such as me and the experienced players, including all the foreign signings.
In training, they help us a lot and tell us how we can improve. I am learning a lot every day and the coach is also very supportive.
Q) You have played with DSK in the youth I-League and then in the top division. How was your experience with the club?
It was a great experience playing with DSK all these years and they have a very special place in my heart. It was the place where I started and that has shaped me as a player and has played an important role in my career.
I would like to thank all my colleagues and coaches at DSK for all their support.
Q) Please tell us about your experience of going to and training with Liverpool FC. How different was it from what you were used to in India? What was it like training and interacting with players like James Milner and Coutinho?
I feel it was a huge privilege to meet the like of Milner and Coutinho. Besides being excellent players, they are all very humble and down-to-earth.
It was a great experience training with them. The standards are completely different from what we were used to at the time in India. The bar is set very high and the game is extremely physical there.
Q) How did your career and life change after that wonder goal against Nepal in the SAFF Cup? Did you ever feel burdened by the sudden pressure and expectation?
(laughs) Honestly, there's no pressure on me. Going out there and giving our best is just a thing we have to do and I just want to improve my game.
And after that goal, nothing has changed for me. My life is the same as it was. The only difference is I've improved a lot since then and wish to keep building on it.
Q) What are your personal expectations from this season? Has the coach spoken to you about your role in the squad?
Yes, the coach has spoken to me a lot of times about my role in the squad. My role will be primarily to play as a winger and create opportunities to help the team to score. He continuously explains my mistakes and motivates me as well, which is really good.
My personal target is just to do my best in everything.
Q) Which international player do you consider to be your idol?
A) Cristiano Ronaldo
Q) And lastly, which team do you think will be the toughest to beat this season?
A) It will surely be us, the Delhi Dynamos! (laughs)