Ramhlunchhunga: Sreenidi’s standout super sub

KOZHIKODE: With two goals and six assists, Ramhlunchhunga was Sreenidi Deccan’s third-highest goal contributor in the Hero I-League this season only behind David Castaneda and Faysal Shayesteh. Impressively, the 21-year-old only played 1,039 minutes, mostly being used as an impact substitute by coach Carlos Vaz Pinto.

Ramhlunchhunga featured in all 22 Hero I-League games for Sreenidi, coming off the bench on 14 occasions, and almost always, turned the game around. As a dynamic forward who can operate in multiple attacking positions, he has been the X factor for Pinto. Down the wings, he is one of the fastest with the ball, loves to trick past his opponents and make inch-perfect deliveries inside the penalty area.

For Chhunga, as he is better known, it all started in the Mizoram Premier League, which he considers one of the best places for youngsters to begin their footballing careers. He signed his first professional contract in 2018 with Electric Veng FC in the MPL.

“MPL helped me a lot in my career because there are so many good players there who are of I-League quality. A lot of players who came from the MPL are now playing in the ISL and the I-League,” Chhunga said.

Living in a joint family, it was difficult for Chhunga to realise his dream of becoming a professional player. He didn’t always receive support from his family, but it only pushed him even more.

“There are eight members in my family including me, my parents, my grandmother, three brothers and one sister. My father didn’t believe that I could be successful as a player, but I turned that into motivation to try and prove him wrong,” he said.

“In Mizo culture, everybody loves and plays football. We play in the school, on the streets, on the fields, every possible place,” he added. “There are many good players to compete with, so it’s very beneficial to grow up in Mizo culture for those who want to become footballers.”

Things worked out similarly for Chhunga. After impressing in the MPL, he was picked up by the state’s big guns Aizawl FC and made his Hero I-League debut at the age of 18 in the 2019-20 season. For the next two seasons, he became a mainstay in the Aizawl forward line and even captained the Reds on a few occasions in the 2021-22 season.

A move to the Hero ISL had been on the cards for a while, and it materialised in the summer of 2022 when Chhunga was signed by the then-champions Hyderabad FC on a three-year contract. For the 2022-23 campaign, he was loaned to crosstown side Sreenidi Deccan FC, who were pushing to win the Hero I-League and earn promotion to the Hero ISL.

The Deccans fell slightly short of their target, finishing runners-up to RoundGlass Punjab, but it was a highly positive season for Chhunga personally. Currently in Kozhikode for the Hero Super Cup, he is determined to give his all in the final stretch of the season.

“I am very excited about the Super Cup because it’s a big tournament. We are in the same group with big clubs like Bengaluru FC, Kerala Blasters and RoundGlass Punjab. I am very excited as I want to continue proving myself and helping the team. As a team, we want to show that we can compete with the best,” Chhunga concluded.

Also Read: Football, a major breakthrough for Churchill Brothers’ Anil Gaonkar

Also Read: Sreenidi Deccan prove two good for Kerala Blasters in Hero Super Cup

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