CHENNAI: Despite a five-match scoring drought in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL), Chennaiyin FC's star striker Jeje Lalpekhlua is calm and is resorting to hard work as they get ready to take on FC Goa in the first leg of the second semi-final away on Saturday.
Jeje, the lone Indian to have been trusted enough to start as the lead striker in this edition of ISL, Jeje has had mixed success.
The Indian international drew a blank in the first three games, scored seven in the next nine and struggled for goals again as he couldn't find the back of the net in five games that followed, including a painful penalty miss.
Having already qualified, Jeje was rested for the concluding league clash against Mumbai City FC -- along with seven others -- but he surely will be in the thick of action again in the semi-finals against arch-rivals FC Goa.
As the semi-final battle against FC Goa draws near, chief coach John Gregory will be desperate for Jeje to start scoring again, especially in the big occasion.
"As a striker my job is to score goals. I am grateful to the coach (John Gregory) for having faith in me, and to give me the challenge to be lead striker for the team. There is always pressure when you play for big club like Chennaiyin FC," said Jeje in a release on Thursday.
"I need to work harder with a lot of chasing around the defenders when I'm out of possession. I am looking forward to Saturday."
The Mizoram striker is a loyal servant of Chennaiyin since the first edition in 2014. He has grown in stature over the period and established himself as the first-choice forward for the national team as well.
It surprised nobody when Chennaiyin FC decided to retain him for a record salary of Rs 1.3 crore, rather than allow him to go into the domestic player draft and be picked up by rival clubs. He has scored seven times -- his best in an ISL edition.
"We are proud to have qualified for semis three out of four times," Jeje said.