Every one of us is missing watching our favourite stars in action. The action won't resume anytime soon but having a conversation is worthwhile during this lockdown. The Highlander Brigade in the second episode of #HiHighlander campaign invited Lalengmawia. The elegant midfielder who wears the number 45 of NEUFC is one of the most underrated talents in the country. Hailing from the hills of Aizawl in Mizoram, the 19-year-old was one of the few breakthroughs in NEUFC this season. With his smart passings and brilliant tackling skills, he has already become one of the fan favourites. Fondly nicknamed as Apuia, the young lad was very professional while answering the questions asked to him.
Much like most of the kids in Mizoram, Apuia too started playing football at a very young age. He first started by playing in local tournaments. He then featured in the Mizoram Premier League u-18 for 3 different clubs at the age of just 14 years. His major breakthrough came when he got selected for the final Indian squad of 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Apuia said that being a part of the World Cup squad made his journey into the I-League and ISL a lot easier. Post World Cup, Apuia signed his first professional contract with Indian Arrows and played there for 2 seasons. Apuia stated that it was a tough experience playing in the I-League as the Arrows comprised only of young Indian talents and the other teams featured experienced overseas players. While still playing for the Arrows, a few clubs approached the young midfielder. But it was the club from Guwahati who won the race for his signature on the dotted line.
Picture source: ISL
When asked about his footballing idol, Apuia said that he loves Lionel Messi and also looks up to Sergio Busquets. Apuia is also an FC Barcelona fan.
Upon being asked about his experience with NEUFC so far, the midfielder said that it was a very disappointing season as a team but individually he improved a lot playing alongside great players like Asamoah Gyan.
A fan asked Apuia what are the three key aspects to be a midfielder to which he responded that firstly one should keep the shape on the field, secondly help out the defence and thirdly control the game with the ball. Giving the example of Luka Modrić, Apuia said that one doesn't have to have a big physique to keep control of the midfield and timing is the most important thing in football.
Apuia has been recently called up for the national team camp but his senior national team debut will have to wait for a while due to the lockdown.
In his free times, Apuia mostly listens to music especially Mizo and English songs; and also loves playing volleyball.
A fan asked Apuia whether he would like winning a match 1-0 or 4-3 to which Apuia said that he would like winning 1-0 as keeping a clean sheet is very important. Another fan asked about his suggestion to a young budding footballer. Apuia's advice was to work hard, obey the seniors and coaches and watch more European football. Apuia also responded to another fan's question about his best match in ISL so far. He said that his debut match against Bengaluru FC was a memorable one.
When we asked about his thoughts on Highlander Brigade, Apuia had high praise for us and said that it's really good to see the Brigade being with the team even through the toughest of times. He added that when they saw the big banners of the Highlander Brigade on the stand. It feels like they are playing real football. However, Apuia also suggested that it will be better to see the stadium more filled up and that will also keep the team motivated.
The Rapid fire round:
-Best friend in the club: Mislav Komorski
-Funniest guy in the team: Nim Dorjee
-DJ of the club: Pawan Kumar
-Best dancer in the team: Leudo
-Worst dancer in the team: Apuia
-Shows off the most in the practice ground: Ninthoi
-The guy with the best fashion sense in the team: Fanai
-Favourite player in ISL: Hugo Boumous
-Favourite Indian player in ISL: Sunil Chhetri
-Favourite player in the team: Fede Gallego
Any superstition before the game: no such rituals. Prays and keeps faith in himself. Watch the full interview here: