Hrishi Anand provides a scout report which analyses India and Chennaiyin’s promising young defender, Jerry Lalrinzuala
Indian football has taken positive strides over the past 5 years. Solid international performances, entertaining football and the emergence of talented youngsters in the domestic set-up have characterized a progressive development. Jerry Lalrinzuala, the Chennaiyin FC defender has been a significant example of this progress.
Who is Jerry Lalrinzuala?
Born in Mizoram, Jerry had an exposure to the game from a young age, taking to the pitch aged just 5. Although his parents were reluctant for Jerry to pursue a career in a field as risky as football, the diminutive defender progressed through the ranks of the AIFF Elite Academy. His potential was spotted at Bethlehem Vengthlang of the Mizoram Premier League and he was signed by Chennaiyin in 2016. Jerry’s strong work ethic and determination meant he was also selected to attend a training camp sponsored by Chennaiyin at FC Metz in France. Jerry has represented India from the U-14 to U-19 age groups. Following an impressive debut season for Chennaiyin where he won the Emerging Player of The Season award to cap off an impressive showing, he was loaned to DSK Shivajians after the ISL season for game-time in the I-League and was consistent at left-back for the Pune based side. In the 2017-18 campaign, Jerry has earned his place as a natural starter at left-back for John Gregory’s Chennaiyin and looks set for another impressive campaign aged just 19.
What is his Style of Play?
Jerry is a traditional wing-back relying on his pace, dribbling and passing to make a difference in the final third without compromising on the defensive aspect of his position. Frequent crossing and rigid positioning make Jerry a reliable player on the left side of the defense. However, Jerry also has a modern side of his football with his adventurous ability to wander infield and take set-pieces. A combination of both make Jerry a player with huge potential both defensively and in the attacking sense.
What are his Strengths?
Attack-minded and pacey, Jerry is a force to be reckoned with on the left-flank as he operates as an attacking left-back. The baby-faced defender is very quick off the blocks and has the capability to recover his position well even when he’s engaged in attacking play. Usually hugging the touchline, Jerry’s close control and dribbling skills make him a tricky customer as he isn’t afraid to take on opposing players when required. A notable aspect of his skill set is his football intelligence. Jerry makes sure he’s always aware of his positioning both defensively and in the attacking half, not compromising on the former for the latter. When faced with a lack of space, Jerry prefers to cut inside rather than play the ball backwards which illustrates the touch of dynamism that he brings to his style of football.
Defensively, Jerry maintains a good positional and match awareness during the course of the game, an aspect especially important for an attack-minded wing-back. His ability to read the game and recover his position allow coaches to give him a free-hand in his approach to the game in the confidence that his pace will be able to cover for any mistakes. While he isn’t the most physical, Jerry’s short center of gravity makes him difficult to dispossess.
What are his Weaknesses?
At only 19 years of age, Jerry has a way to go before he can play to his full potential. Most of his weaknesses are aspects of his game that he can very easily correct with age and experience. Jerry is sometimes found wanting with regards to his positioning. While his attacking approach is fantastic, this eagerness to attack sometimes leaves his defense exposed on the left-hand side which opponents look to exploit. Jerry’s ability to recover his position may nullify this weakness but the young defender needs to work on his positional discipline to maintain the team’s shape and structure. In more rigid tactical systems, Jerry could find it difficult to remain focused if he doesn’t fine-tune his positional sense.
Jerry can also work on the accuracy of his crosses and set-pieces to make his game more potent in the final third. With Jeje Lalpekhlua leading the line for Chennaiyin, Jerry usually plays low crosses into the box given the lack of target men. The accuracy of crossing needs to be improved if Jerry is to register more assists. The Mizo defender also needs to practice his set-pieces more if he does insist on trying his hand at every free-kick and corner his side wins. While his shooting is powerful, it often lacks accuracy.
It would also be a welcome improvement if he could add a more physical side to his game which would ensure that he prevails in physical battles with his opponents.
Jerry Lalrinzuala has already made a good number of appearances despite his young age and holds the potential to become a fixture at left-back for Chennaiyin and the Indian football team over the next few years. Jerry needs to use his exposure to such a variety of players, managers and football to his advantage and gain the maturity and experience required to succeed at the top-level. Already a hard-worker in training and set apart thanks to a great commitment and desire to win, Jerry definitely has all the ingredients to become a top player and make a career for himself both in India and possibly in higher international leagues. As is often the case with youngsters, Jerry needs to maintain humility and a calm head when dealing with pressure and fame but with so many experienced professionals around him at Chennaiyin like John Gregory, Henrique Sereno and Jeje as well as the international level like Sunil Chhetri, Jerry is definitely one to watch for the future.
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