The India international was nominated three times by the AIFF for the prestigious award.
The Mizoram Football Association (MFA) has voiced its disappointment at witnessing Jeje Lalpekhlua being snubbed from the list of Arjuna Award winners in 2020 in a letter written to Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju.
In the past, Jeje Lalpekhlua has been nominated three times by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for the Arjuna Award but has been ignored every time. He was also nominated in 2020, however, defender Sandesh Jhingan was awarded the trophy for excellence in Indian Football ahead of the Mizo Sniper.
In the letter, obtained by Khel Now, the Mizoram Football Association have inquired regarding the criteria – to win the Arjuna Award. The state association have also posed a crucial question, “Why has Jeje Lalpekhlua been overlooked after three separate occasions?” despite being a part of the Indian national football team much longer than the previous winners.
The state association have also cited the fact that Jeje Lalpekhlua is the country’s second-highest scorer among active players, scoring 23 goals which is only less than the Blue Tigers captain Sunil Chhetri. The MFA also insists that being the sixth-highest goalscorer in Indian football history and having more caps than Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Sandesh Jhingan, makes Jeje Lalpekhlua a worthy recipient for the honour.
In the letter, the MFA also lists out the impressive set of achievements managed by Jeje in his decorated career. They categorically point the fact that he’s won all of India’s top competitions, including the Indian Super League (ISL), I-League, Federation Cup as well as the SAFF Championship (thrice) and Intercontinental Cup with the Indian national team.
They also point his individual accolades like being the top-scorer in the I-League (2010-11 season) and ISL (2014) as well as winning the AIFF Player of the Year (2016) and FPAI Indian Player of the Year (2015-16), which make him a deserving recipient for the Arjuna Award.
Jeje Lalpekhlua has had a difficult few years dealing with injury problems which started after the AFC Asian Cup 2019. He missed the entirety of ISL 2019-20 season due to injury and has recently been released by Chennaiyin FC, however, the Arjuna Award snub only piles on the misery suffered by the Mizo Sniper in recent times.