Shillong, Jan 24: The Meghalaya Football Association has carried out the draw for the 25-team Meghalaya State League 2022-23, with defending champions Shillong Lajong FC in Group C and the inaugural winners Niaw Wasa United in Group B.

Group A contains Shillong Premier League 2021-22 champions Mawlai SC as well as the third-placed Langsning FC.

The participating clubs have been divided up into four groups of six, with Group B containing an extra team.

They have been drawn from all over the state with the champions from the local leagues being granted direct entry. Second-placed teams from the more prominent leagues also qualified directly, while other teams had to go through a round of qualifying matches, such as Lajong, who only finished fourth in last year’s SPL.

The tournament is scheduled to begin in the second week of March. It has already been pushed back several times due to the North East Olympic Games in November, Santosh Trophy in December and January and the Meghalaya Assembly elections on 27th February.

As in the previous two editions, the group matches will be held in various towns around the state, although only the district hosts are known at present.

Shillong will probably get the final, that is if the new artificial turf at the First Ground stadium in Polo is laid in time. Shillong has never hosted an MSL match before, as the MFA had always wanted the state’s champions’ league to be held away from the state capital.

As a reminder, Niaw Wasa won the first MSL in 2017-18, beating Tynrongmawsaw on penalties in the final on their home turf in Jowai. The second edition of the event saw Lajong defeat Rangdajied United FC in Khliehriat. That final was also decided on penalties.

(File photo)

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