The striker has also unequivocally expressed his support for the induction of both Kolkata clubs into the ISL.
After a very brief period of time, India will play China in an international friendly. The game will take place on October 13 at the Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre at IST 5.05pm. Last time both teams met was in the 2002 Asian Games where India lost 2-0.
Ahead of the big friendly, the Indian national team’s star striker Jeje Lalpekhlua interacted with the press in New Delhi on Monday. The forward shed some light on how important this game is and what he and the team need to improve on.
The Indian team have made exceptional development in recent times
“This game is going to be very difficult because China is a very good side and I hope we can do well and take something from this game,” he said.
When questioned about the growth of Anirudh Thapa in the last couple of years the striker replied, “Yes, he is a good player. I have seen in the last two years he has improved in so many ways, his gameplay and on and off the field. I think he did well in the SAFF Cup and I hope he continues for the national team and in the future. He is one of the best players for the country.”
India have not played against such a big opponent in a long time and speaking about how the team is preparing for the game Lalpekhlua said, “Yes, I think like I said this game is not going to be easy. This is preparation for the Asian Cup and it is good for us. We have got a good opportunity to play against the big team and like I said we need to take something from this game.”
“It’s different. National team and clubs are different. Of course, whenever we play each other we play for our teams, but when we play for the national team its a different feeling. We are playing for the country so its different, ” said the 27-year-old on how he battles with Sunil Chhetri while playing against each other in the Indian Super League (ISL).
The striker also shared his views on whether the ISL should include East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. “Yes of course. Because East Bengal and Mohun Bagan make Indian football. If these two teams come into the ISL it is going to be very much competitive and it is good for Indian football and the ISL. I enjoyed a lot in Kolkata. I played there for three years. I hope both of these teams come into the ISL.”
“As compared to leagues, Chinese league is very big and good. Indian league like ISL has now started growing, but China started before us, so they are more developed,” the striker said on the comparison between the Indian and Chinese leagues.
When questioned about what will matter the most, the result or the style of football India will play he replied, “I think the result is more important. But, the most important thing is how we play. Like I said, they are a good side. So, I guess this is great preparation for us for the Asian Cup.”
“As a player you know you need to adapt every game. You need to adapt to whatever the coach wants. If you want to play at a club you need to follow that coach and when you come back to the national team you need to follow what this coach wants. It depends on my situation,” commented the striker on playing Spanish flavoured football in the ISL and a traditional long-ball style with the national team.
The striker concluded the press conference by saying that the teams performance matters the most for him over his own. “My individual performance is not important, the team is more important. We need to work together and the main thing is if we work together we will get a good result.”