The Mizoram Football Association (MFA) has asked for clarifications from the Indian government on why Jeje Lalpekhlua has not been awarded the Arjuna Award despite being nominated for it thrice since 2017. The 'Mizo Sniper' is India's second-highest goal scorer amongst the players still active.
Jeje Lalpekhlua sprung into prominence ever since he made his move to Dempo, following a four-year stint with Pune FC. It was with Mohun Bagan that he won the I-League in 2015 and the Federation Cup, the year after, along with two Indian Super League titles for Chennaiyin FC. Simultaneously, the forward made his international debut back in 2011, having played 56 matches and scoring 23 goals in total, the second-highest amongst the active players.
In spite of his achievements, the Indian Government has overlooked him for the prestigious Arjuna Award, even though he has been nominated thrice since 2017. The Mizoram Football Association has recently written a letter and asked for clarification from the government regarding the same.
“While the MFA acknowledges and applauds the Indian footballer awardees; it insists upon the disclosure of the detailed criteria for the Arjuna Award, as well as the explanation to the question why has Jeje Lalpekhlua been overlooked after three separate nominations?” reads the letter.
“He is currently ranked 6th on the all-time scorers list. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Sandesh Jhingan, who both have earned worthy acclamation through their storied careers, have both earned 38 and 36 caps respectively.”
Apart from his feats in the domestic circuit, Jeje Lalpekhlua played influential roles in India’s SAFF Cup-winning squads in 2009, 2011, and 2015. After spending six years at Chennaiyin FC, the footballer has recently parted ways with the club, but he is yet to announce his next destination.