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Jeje Lalpekhlua ends goal drought - can he rediscover his best form?

olive paul
ANALYST
Feature
368   //    08 Jan 2019, 09:16 IST

Jeje celebrates after scoring against Thailand [Image: AFC Media]
Jeje celebrates after scoring against Thailand [Image: AFC Media]

One of the most talked about goal droughts in Indian football has finally come to an end after 215 days!

Jeje Lalpekhlua’s barren run without finding the net came to an end as he struck in the 80th minute, which saw India sail past Thailand in their first match of the AFC Asian Cup.

The striker had gone more than 11 hours of competitive football without scoring for Chennayin FC or India, across a seven-month period. Jeje’s last goal came against Kenya in the Intercontinental Cup on 4th June 2018.

It might not be the worst record in world football but it was enough to convince John Gregory not to start him regularly, dropping him to the bench for 6 of Chennaiyin’s 12 games.

Goalscoring has been a major issue for Chennaiyin this season and Jeje’s goal drought has compounded that many times over. This is in sharp contrast with last season where Jeje scored nine goals for Chennaiyin, thus becoming the first Indian to finish as the top scorer of a championship winning side. John Gregory and his coaching staff remain perplexed about what happened.

Amid all the noise and conjecture about Jeje’s loss of form at Chennaiyin FC, perhaps the reality is; Jeje is a goal scorer -- 22 goals in 64 games for Chennaiyin emphasizes that -- but he is also an inconsistent one, prone to the kind of lengthy barren runs that he is enduring once again this season.

Some believe that Jeje is struggling because his work-rate isn't high enough, his link-up play often leaves a lot to be desired.

But those who have worked with Jeje at Chennaiyin would also suggest that the low-point he is experiencing at Chennaiyin at the moment is no different to the one he went through last season when he had a six-match goalless streak, ending when he scored twice in the semi-final against FC Goa.

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In the midst of a miserable season and three-month free fall, Jeje’s long-awaited goal will definitely bring some solace and perhaps satisfaction to Chennaiyin’s coaching staff.

Ultimately, Jeje has ploughed through lengthy periods of morose scoring drought before and came through to enjoy prolific patches again, and it is difficult to imagine that the same won't happen this time.

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olive paul
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