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Football

'I'm so happy to train with Sunil Chhetri', says David Lalhlansanga

The 22-year-old striker had a sensational 2023-24 season with Mohammedan Sporting Club, winning the I-League and the Calcutta Football League.

Im so happy to train with Sunil Chhetri, says David Lalhlansanga
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David Lalhlansanga (Photo credit: AIFF)

By

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 27 May 2024 11:22 AM GMT

David Lalhlansanga is the newest face in the Indian senior men's national camp. Out of the 27 players named by Igor Stimac for the FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Kuwait, he is the only first-timer in the camp. Edmund Lalrindika, who happens to be his roommate in the camp, is also in his first senior camp but has played youth internationals before. For David, this is an uncharted territory and an opportunity he is keen to grab with both hands.

"The most important things I've experienced in the camp are discipline and punctuality. The coach and the coaching staff are good with us and try to motivate us in every possible way. I have a great bond with my teammates," said Lalhlansanga.

The 22-year-old striker had a sensational 2023-24 season with Mohammedan Sporting Club, winning the I-League and the Calcutta Football League. He was the CFL's top scorer with a whopping 21 goals, nine more than the nearest competitor, and also won the Durand Cup Golden Boot with six goals, including four in a single game against Jamshedpur FC. In Mohammedan Sporting's glorious I-League campaign, Lalhansanga contributed five goals.

"Mohammedan Sporting is a good club. Everyone is very united and supportive, and that helped us to win the league," he said.

Stimac and assistant coach Mahesh Gawali already had an eye on Lalhansanga since he made a blistering start to the season. The Croatian was in attendance in Naihati for Mohammedan Sporting's 3-1 win over Namdhari FC in March.

"I've had a good season and I'm very happy. The team manager at the club told me that the Indian coach would watch the game. I was excited and tried my best to play well," said Lalhansanga, who impressed Stimac enough during the course of the season to make the probables list, and then in the Bhubaneswar camp as well to make the final list of 27.

"At first, it was kind of hard for me to adjust to a different place with different weather and with different people. But luckily, I could adjust quickly because my teammates helped me a lot. I never imagined myself playing with the best players in India. It's been great fun," shared Lalhansanga, who prefers to operate as an out-and-out centre forward, but has also played more withdrawn roles with his club.

Lalhansanga was born in the Cachar district of Assam and a year later, his family moved to Mizoram where they continue to live. "My family consists of my mother, two siblings and my nephew. The main source of my family's income is through farming and poultry."

The 22-year-old started playing football at the age of 10. He was part of the Aizawl FC academy for two years before being promoted to the first team and made his senior debut against his current club Mohammedan Sporting in February 2021. He wore the captain's armband and scored his first goal for Aizawl in a 3-0 win over Chennai City FC a month later. After spending two more seasons with the Mizoram capital side, Mohammedan Sporting came calling and handed him his big break. And now, he finds himself in the Blue Tigers camp, breaking sweat every day with the best in the country.

"I received a call from AIFF and they told me that I was selected to join the senior national camp. At that time, I was so happy and didn't know how to react," he revealed.

It wasn't just the ecstasy of joining the national camp, but also sharing the training pitch with an idol like Sunil Chhetri. Now that the India captain has announced that this is his last camp, Lalhansanga feels extra special to be part of the group.

"I'm so happy to be able to train with Sunil Chhetri. We play in the same position and I've learned a lot from him. He has taught me many things like passing and positioning in the box. He's someone I've admired since I was a child," said Lalhansanga.

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