The Mizo winger has been among the best young talents in the country.
Khel Now looks at Lallianzuala Chhangte, one of the most talked-about and talented youngsters in the national football scene in India. The youngster plies his trade for DSK Shivajians, a club whose academy he has come through.
Date of birth: 06/08/97
Height: 167 CM
The player from Mizoram made his senior I-League debut at the start of the season, in a 1-0 away loss to Mumbai FC. The youngster has played a part in every league game since.
The young player, who generally plays on the right wing has a free flowing style of play with quick feet, good dribbling skills, a nice first touch and ability to find space.
Aspects to Improve:
End product. Chhangte has impressed with his ability with the ball but is yet to register a goal or an assist for DSK in the league. While he has a long way to go, improving his final ball will drastically improve the youngster’s reputation.
At first glance, the player’s first touch and dribbling is somewhat similar to that of charismatic team mate Juan Quero. The 5 ft 6-inch winger has a low centre of gravity coupled with good pace reminding one of a mix between David Silva and Jesus Navas, if one may compare him to two of Europe’s elite midfielders.
DSK Shivajians, over its short stay in the Hero I-League so far has proved to be a hotbed for upcoming youngsters. Beyond having more than 4 U-22 players in their match-day squads on a regular basis, Dave Rogers’ side also boast of many young and upcoming Indian players like Milan Singh, Seityasen Singh and Sumeet Passi to name a few.
It is crucial to give great credit to the academy DSK Shivajians run in partnership with English football giants Liverpool FC. The former head coach of the academy, Dave Rogers is now in charge of the senior team, and has overseen the development of the multitude of youth players currently breaking into the senior side at DSK.
Lallianzuala, or Zola as he is fondly called, was spotted by the academy in 2014, in it’s inaugural season in the U-19 I-League. Zola played a crucial role that season, finishing as the league’s highest goal scorer with sixteen strikes to his name as Shivajians reached the final round of the league.
Lallianzuala’s impressive performances over the season earned him a spot in the AIFF side coached by Lee Johnson for the U-18 Asia Champions Trophy.
The next season was also a very successful one for Chhangte, who scored 9 goals for DSK in the 2015–16 U-18 I-League, again becoming the highest goal-scorer in the process. DSK made it to the final round from the Maharashtra zone.
The youngster continued his constant rise as he was called up to the U-19 national team for AFC U-19 Championships qualification. The diminutive winger gave a good account of himself despite the team’s poor results. The crowning glory of Zola’s short career came when he was selected in the senior national team for the year-end SAFF Championship.
The boy from Mizoram got the perfect Christmas gift as he made his debut for India on 25th December 2015, coming on for Robin Singh late on in a 2-1 win over Sri Lanka. Two days later, Constantine gave him another chance, one which Zola grabbed with both hands, scoring two cracking goals in a 4-1 win over Nepal. Those goals made him the second youngest goalscorer for India ever.
In March 2016, Lallianzuala, along with fellow youngster Jerry Mawihmingthanga, was selected to spend a week training at Melwood in Liverpool, England, as part of the academy collaboration between DSK and Liverpool FC. This experience was a significant one for both youngsters, getting to spend time with world class footballers, something Zola himself has been very grateful for.
He spent the 2016 ISL season on loan at NorthEast United FC, although he struggled for game time with the Highlanders, playing only a handful of minutes in a disappointing campaign for John Abraham’s team.
Chhangte, though, has gone from strength to strength in Hero I-League this season, under Dave Rogers. The 19-year-old has established himself as an integral part of the starting XI of an exciting and youthful DSK side. The No. 7 has shown pace and trickery playing on the right wing, often linking up with Nirmal Chettri and captain Juan Quero.
The youngster has not only shone through with his dribbles and acceleration to get past players, but also through his tactical acumen. Knowing what pass to pick, what positions to take up and timing your runs can be equally crucial, and the youngster has shown he has the brains to produce such quality on a regular basis.
The only downfall one might point out has been his lack of direct involvement in goals so far. Zola is yet to register a goal or an assist for The Shivajians senior team. He has found himself in great positions at times, but failed with the decisive cross or efficient finishing. Yet, his overall skill set means the youngster only needs to continue working hard towards the direction that he’s heading in, and the goals will come.
Dave Rogers’ View
41-year-old Dave Rogers is a man who has overseen a large chunk of Chhangte’s development. While being endowed with an abundance of talent, Zola has truly developed into the potential star that he is, under the guidance of the Englishman. Rogers, of course was the head coach of the DSK International Academy during the youngster’s time there playing in the junior leagues and it has been Rogers who has promoted him to full time first team action now.
We caught up with the current first-team manager of DSK Shivajians, who had words both words of praise and caution for the 19-year-old. Rogers remarked, “Lalianzuala has developed over the last two years into a fantastic prospect. His attitude to learn and work rate each day on the training pitch is a testament to him as a person.
Rogers continued, “He (Chhangte) is by no means the finished article and realises that to fulfil his potential he must keep his feet firmly on the ground and push himself daily. At our club he has the perfect facilities and coaching staff to progress and he is a joy to work with. I have no doubt with more experience and endeavour that Lallianzuala will continue his development and go on and become a regular first team player here at DSK and also have a long international career for India.”