The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has recommended Sandesh Jhingan, Jeje Lalpekhlua, and Bala Devi for the Arjuna Award for the upcoming year. The last footballer to win the Arjuna Award was Indian national team goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who was bestowed with the accolade in 2019.
Jeje Lalpekhlua has been acting as the secondary striker to Sunil Chhetri for the Indian national team over the past decade and has been a constant during Bob Houghton, Wim Koevermans and Stephen Constantine's tenures.
Lalpekhlua has scored 90 goals across international and club football. The Mizo Sniper has played for major Indian football clubs like Pune FC (now defunct), Dempo SC, Mohun Bagan and Chennaiyin FC, distinguishing himself in the process.
Lalpekhlua is also perhaps the second most experienced active player in the Indian football landscape currently.
Sandesh Jhingan has scaled an upward trajectory since 2014
Sandesh Jhingan rose to prominence when he signed up for Indian Super League (ISL) side Kerala Blasters in 2014. His performance at the Kochi-based franchise made him an instant fan favourite in Kerala and across India.
Sandesh Jhingan made his national team debut and even went on skipper the national side in a few encounters.
Sandesh Jhingan has now played 34 official matches for the Blue Tigers and more than a hundred club games, with most of them coming for the Kerala Blasters. Sandesh Jhingan has grown as a competent leader and is arguably one of India's best defenders at present.
Bala Devi has been the centre of discussion in the Indian women's football scenery ever since she was snapped up by Scottish Premiership side Rangers FC. Devi is currently at Rangers and has been part of the first team squad regularly.
She has played for IWL sides like Manipur Police, Eastern Sporting Union, and KRYPHSA.
The Manipur-based footballer is also the captain of the National Team and is statistically the best forward in the side, with her scoring 52 goals in 58 games for the Blue Tigresses.
AIFF has also recommended Gabriel Joseph for the Dronacharya Award. Joseph has been the Director of Coaching at AIFF and was the assistant coach of the Indian national team when Syed Abdul Rahim was at the helm.Published 06 Jul 2020, 14:51 IST