Shillong, Oct 3: They may not have made any foreign signings or picked up players from outside the North East, but Ryntih’s real strength can be found in the players’ bonds of friendship, team captain Banpynkhrawnam Nongkhlaw (pictured) said.

Nongkhlaw, a former defender with Churchill Brothers, said this on the eve of the start of Ryntih’s eagerly anticipated I-League Qualifiers campaign, which will see the Shillong club take on Rajasthan United in Bangalore tomorrow.

Kick-off will be at 3:45PM and the match can be viewed on the official I-League Facebook page.

“Together as a team, we have not just been playing together, but we have also been staying with each other for the best part of the last two years. We always try to find opportunities to spend time together off the field as well,” Nongkhlaw was quoted as saying on the I-League website. “This has developed a very good equation in the squad. We know where each member in the team stands – we know our strengths and weaknesses as a group. Our mentality is very strong and fairly straightforward – we always try to go for a win in each match we play. It is going to be the same in this tournament. Thus, I believe that it is going to be a good competition and good experience for us.”

The other clubs in Ryntih’s Group A are Bengaluru United, Madan Maharaj and Hyderya Sports.

“The I-League Qualifiers are going to be tough and different from the tournaments that we have played so far. Every team is coming from a different part of the country here, and they will all have a different mentality about how to approach the game. I think Ryntih might well be the underdogs in this tournament, as this is our first time here and we have a squad full of local players. However, we will be ready to bring the fight in all matches, and we are prepared to give tough competition to any team in the tournament,” Nongkhlaw said.

Meanwhile, Khlain Pyrkhat Syiemlieh, who Ryntih roped in as coach just prior to the qualifiers, said, “We have wanted to compete at this stage for a long time and our goal is to play in the I-League. For the qualifiers, we have trained rigorously for the last two months. We have focused on practicing internally, as we have not been able to get practice matches due to the pandemic situation. Overall, I am happy with our pre-season and ready to return to competition.”

(Ryntih file photo)

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