Shillong (Meghalaya), Nov 7: Meghalaya started the 2nd North East Olympic Games’ football competition in the best way possible, with a commanding 6-1 victory over Sikkim in their U-21 men’s Group 2 match at the MFA Turf, Third Ground, Polo, here today.
Dajiedlang Wanshnong produced a hat-trick (23′, 32′, 53′) for Meghalaya, while substitute Wadajied Kynsai Ryngkhlem (90’+3, 90’+4) added a brace and Oresterwell Langshiang (90’+5) one goal as the hosts scored three times in a hectic stoppage time. Sikkim’s lone goal was scored by Swarneem Gurung in the 66th minute.
While the 2nd NEOG 2022 officially begins on Thursday, football began early with an eye to provide the players adequate rest time between matches.
This fixture was the last of the day, coming after Nagaland defeated Arunachal Pradesh 2-0 and Manipur blanked Assam 3-0. Meghalaya and Sikkim had the honour of playing the inaugural match under the new lights at the MFA Turf that were introduced for the Games.
The players also had the privilege of meeting former India international footballer Eugeneson Lyngdoh MLA before the start of the match and the Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, who presented the Man of the Match award to Wanshnong for his stellar performance.
Sikkim did well early on to hold Meghalaya off but the deadlock was broken in the 23rd minute when Figo Syndai’s shot was pushed into the air by Sikkim goalkeeper Sushil Limboo and Wanshnong headed it in. His second strike was a stunning long range shot that curled up and over the goalie.
Just before half-time Gurung had his first good attempt but Meghalaya custodian Banshanskhem Kharsyntiew made a brilliant dive to his right to effect a save.
Another cracker of a goal early in the second half earned Wanshnong his hat-trick before Gurung pulled one back for Sikkim, which gave their vocal supporters in the stands something to really cheer about.
Just when it looked like the match would end 3-1 in the hosts’ favour, the floodgates opened, with Ryngkhlem netting two and Langshiang, another substitute, blasting the ball to make it 6-1 for Meghalaya.
Tomorrow will see the beginning of the U-17 women’s competition, with Manipur facing Assam at 11am in Group 1 followed by Mizoram versus Meghalaya at 3:30pm in Group 2.