Shillong, Feb 26: Meghalaya will take on Sikkim in Guwahati tomorrow for a place in the 2nd U-21 Dr T Ao Football Tournament. Kick-off is scheduled for 1:30PM.
The second semifinal will take place at 4:30PM between Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
Meghalaya qualified for the last-four with 10 points from the six-team Pool B, second only to Mizoram (13 points). Sikkim were the top team from the five-team Pool A with nine points, with Arunachal second with seven points. Teams from each of the eight North East states as well as teams representing Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan entered the tournament.
Meghalaya had a tough draw and schedule of matches to overcome, with four games in four consecutive days, which a team official called “not practical”.
The team started with a 2-1 victory over Tripura on 19th February, followed by a 3-2 win over Nepal the day after. A 2-1 victory over Nagaland then followed and Meghalaya battled bravely to draw with Mizoram 3-3.
The 10 points from these four matches and Nepal’s win over Manipur (which meant that the latter couldn’t catch up in terms of points with Meghalaya) saw Meghalaya secure a place in the semis.
With their semifinal spot guaranteed Meghalaya didn’t press too greatly against Manipur in their final match yesterday, which Manipur won 2-0.
Ronald Lyngdoh Nonglait, Shaibor Nongrum and Figo Syndai have scored two goals each for Meghalaya, with Syndai also providing four assists. Belton Lartang, Robert Khongjoh, Batskhem Thangkhiew and Mediphrangki Pohleng were the state’s other scorers.
Perhaps the only possible worry is that Meghalaya have yet to keep a clean sheet. Their opponents tomorrow, Sikkim, are also in the same position, as it happens. Sikkim have beaten Arunachal 3-1, Bhutan 9-1 and Bangladesh 2-1, while losing to Assam 2-1.
Meghalaya had beaten Sikkim twice in last year’s tournament, once in the group stage and then again in the third-place playoff, which they won 5-1.