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India’s star striker credits coach for turnaround

His consistent showing in recent times has caught the fancy of many and Indian football team striker Jeje Lalpekhlua credited coach Stephen Constantine for helping him with his game inside the box.

The 25-year-old Jeje, who made his senior India debut in 2011, is leaving for Tehran tomorrow along with his team-mates for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Iran on March 24.

“Constantine has fine-tuned my movements inside the box. I owe him a lot. He has helped me regain my confidence. He always stresses that hard work beats talent. I am a firm believer in that,” Jeje said.

Jeje talked about the introduction of new techniques and training methods in the national team set-up.

“For the first time we are using GPS systems during our training and during international matches. The results are in front of us and it is so much useful to the players,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we can’t avail such facilities in the club set-up. So it is up to you to take care of yourself and do that extra bit,” he added.

“The life of an injured player is the toughest. You stay low on confidence and the reality strikes you that you need to do it all by yourself.”

Jeje believes it will be quite a difficult task to beat the Asian powerhouse Iran. India had last beaten Iran in 1959.

“It’s hard for the coach to set up the team in such a short duration. He doesn’t have much time. Playing in Iran will be tough. We need to take inspiration from our triumph in the SAFF Cup and give or best,” Jeje said.

“The team is slowly gelling together and settling down. There have been 22 new players who have come into the national team. You cannot expect them to excel in international football on the first day itself.

“The most positive aspect of the present squad is that no player is sure of his place in the team. The coach wants all to give their 100 percent and only the best will play.”
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