Shillong, May 11: The highly-anticipated Meghalaya State League 2023, the third edition of the statewide league of champions, will begin in Jowai at the Kiang Nangbah Stadium on Friday, with kick-off slated for 3PM.
MSL Season 3 will be launched with a game between giants Niaw Wasa United and Rangdajied United, both of whom have qualified for each of the two previous editions of the mega tournament. The MSL is organised by the Meghalaya Football Association and has been faithfully supported by the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs since its inception as part of the Meghalaya government’s commitment to promote football in the state.
A pre-match press conference was held in Jowai today with representatives of the two sides and the General Secretary of the West Jaintia District Sports Association, Lamat-o Laloo, who is also the Competition Committee Chairman of the MFA.
The Jowai Zone of MSL 2023 is the biggest of the four zones with a total of seven teams, the others being Ladthadlaboh SC, Sein Pynbhalang SC, Youth Club Pdengkarong, Rymbai Iawpynsing SC and Mulait United FC. This will give football fans of Jaintia Hills plenty of opportunity to catch their favourite players and teams in action.
Tickets for tomorrow’s match will be available at the venue. In addition to the football, there will be plenty of other activities for everyone, with a Fan Zone that will feature music from the talented young singer Jessie Lyngdoh, who has also composed the MSL 2023 anthem, among other acts. A variety of food stalls will also offer plenty of options for spectators to stay well fed and hydrated. The opening ceremony will be graced by Shakliar Warjri, the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, as the chief guest, with Jowai MLA Wailadmiki Shylla the special guest.
At today’s press conference, both sides, who have been preparing intensely for the start of the league, urged the fans to come to the ground and lend their support to the players. While Niaw Wasa are the home side and should have the majority of the backing, there are plenty of players in the Rangdajied squad who have deep connections to Jaintia Hills too.
Niaw Wasa won this past season’s Super Division Football League of the West Jaintia District Sports Association. They are also MSL royalty having won the inaugural edition of the tournament in January 2018, beating Tynrongmawsaw on penalties in the final in Jowai. In addition, the club also won the first Meghalaya State Futsal League in 2021 and thereby qualified for the national Futsal Club Championship. They will be aiming to perform better in this edition of the MSL after failing to get past the group stage in 2019.
Rangdajied United, on the other hand, finished as runners-up in MSL 2019, losing the final to defending champions Shillong Lajong on penalties in Khliehriat. However, that was a big improvement on their performance in the inaugural edition where they were unable to progress to the semifinals. This past season saw RUFC end as runners-up in the Shillong Premier League as well and they will look to build on that momentum and challenge for the MSL title once again.
Following the grand opening day, all of the other three zones – Tura (Chandmari Ground), Mawkyrwat (MDSA Ground) and Shillong (Third Ground, Polo) – will get their matches underway from Saturday, thus taking the action across Meghalaya.
(Meghalaya Football Association photo)