After the Mizoram Football Association (MFA), now chief minister Zoramthanga has raised the issue of Indian national team striker Jeje Lalpekhlua being sidelined for the Arjuna Award.

The MFA recently sought a clarification from the Centre on why the striker from Mizoram, Jeje Lalpekhlua, was ignored for the Arjuna Award despite being nominated on three occasions since 2017.

Expressing his feelings after Jeje being ignored for the Arjuna Award, Zoramthanga in a tweet, addressing Union sports minister Kire Rijiju, said: “Shri @KirenRijiju ji, due respect to past & future awardee of the prestigious #arjunaaward; I stand with the people of #Mizoram in their dreams, their contribution towards the upliftment of the #IndianFootball, the pain felt by a sidelined recognition we all yearned #FactsMatter.”

The Mizoram chief minister has shared a factsheet where it is shown that Jeje deserved the award more than his two friends, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Sandesh Jhingan.

Despite her remarkable achievements, Jeje’s name has been dropped for the third time in 2020.

In 2017, Jeje was nominated for the award along with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Bembem Devi and the award went to Bembem Devi.

The Indian striker from Mizoram lost to lesser capped Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Sandesh Jinghan in 2019 and 2020, respectively, the Mizoram Football Association said in its letter.

“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?” the letter said.

Jeje has earned 56 caps for the Indian national team, scoring 23 goals and he is second only to Sunil Chhetri in the national scoring charts among active players, it said.

“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,” the letter added.

Jeje’s personnel achievements include FPAI Best Young Player Award (2010-11), I-League Top Indian Goalscorer (2010-11), AIFF Emerging Player of the Year (2013), Indian Super League Top Indian Goalscorer (2014), ISL Emerging Player of the League (2015), Top Indian Goalscorer in SAFF Championship 2015 (Tied with Sunil Chhetri), Federation Cup Top Goalscorer (2015-16), Federation Cup Best Player (2015-16), FPAI Indian Player of the Year (2015-16) and AIFF Player of the Year (2016).

Among the honours, Jej has earned for his club and country are I-League title (2014-15), Federation Cup title (2015-16), ISL (2015, 2017-18), SAFF Championships (2009, 2011, 2015) and Intercontinental Cup (2018).

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