The fourth edition of the Dr T Ao Memorial Football Tournament was inaugurated at the JN Stadium Shillong with a speech including the official launch of the floodlights by Meghalaya Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma on Monday.
B Diengdoh and Meghalaya Football Association General Secretary Larsing Ming Sawyan also were present and spoke at the occasion.
Meghalaya who took on Arunachal Pradesh displayed a stunning performance by winning 3-0 in the opening day of the Dr. T Ao Memorial Football Tournament on Monday at the JN Stadium Shillong.
In the first half, it was the host who shared majority of the possession and looked dangerous right from the word go with Arunachal’s defence showing some nerves as Meghalaya attacked right from the start and made their intentions clear.
It was in the 10th minute that Niwan O Gatphoh had a good run up into Arunachal’s defence but was not able to convert and there was a strong left foot shot by another Meghalaya player in the 13th minute, but only to see his shot go wide of the Arunachal goal.
In the 16th minute, Ronnie Nongbri took a free kick 20 yards from the box but unfortunately shot wide.
Gatphoh was understandably the star of the home outfit, sprinting around the field and indeed was always in the thick of the action.
It was Meghalaya yet again with another chance when Bickyson Kharkongor took a long strike that caught the Arunachal keeper off guard as his strike hit the crossbar and bounced just in front of the goal line. And this however continued when Gatphoh and the keeper ran for the rebound, but the custodian got to the ball first. A minute later Gatphoh took a shot that struck the corner of the goal post for another near scoring opportunity.
Donbok Khymdeit was also notable in Meghalaya’s forays forward and, despite the continued missed chances, it seemed inevitable that the hosts would score eventually.
What the home fans were waiting for finally came in the 28th minute when Teiborlang Siangshai gave the host the deserved lead when he had the ball in the box, and without being properly guarded, he struck the ball over the top past the goalie and this time the ball stayed low enough to find the back of the net.
With hardly any action displayed by the guest it was Meghalaya who continued to press and push for another attempt on goal.
Gatphoh took a strike just before 30 minutes and although the goalie fumbled, he collected the ball before either of two prowling Meghalaya players could reach the ball.
Both teams kept the excitement levels high by throwing themselves into the attack, although it was the home team who had the best of the opportunities. The Arunachal outfit were guilty of not executing well on a number of opportunities when they got themselves into good positions.
In the 35th minute, Arunachal’s Mihin Pullo got past a number of Meghalaya defenders but was not able to pull off his strike on goal but he had to settle seeing his shot going wide off the post.
Arunachal had another chance in the 41st minute via a free kick, but Techi Taker struck it over the crossbar.
A free kick and a corner gave Meghalaya their last chance to increase their lead in the first half, but the session remained 1-0 in the host team’s favour.
Although the host dominated the half, Arunachal would have taken some solace that they had only conceded the one goal, while Meghalaya would have gone into the break brimming with confidence and eager to earn more goals.
Crossing over, Meghalaya had more ball possession and earned a corner in 47th minute, but the ball was headed out by a Meghalaya player.
Two minutes later, the visitors won a corner but Meghalaya custodian Alwyn Paswet ran forward to pluck the ball out of the air.
Meghalaya doubled their lead in the 53rd minute when Milancy Khongstia, who went up the left flank and fired the ball while the goalie only partly stopped the shot, parrying the ball forward and Khongstia was able to take the rebound and send the ball into the net.
Khongstia and Khymdeit were in action in the 65th minute, with the former taking the ball up the right flank, and then passing it neatly to Khymdeit in between Arunacha’s defenders, but his powerful shot is properly shunted away by the goalie.
The best opportunity for Arunachal came just a few minutes later when Pullo, on the left flank, shot the ball over the bar.
The home crowd who came to watch their home team play under the newly inaugurated floodlights showed immense support for the Reds, and the lads in turn scored another powerful shot in the 87th minute via a free kick 4 yards from the box. Gatphoh who took the free kick, striked it beautifully, beating the diving keeper to make it 3-0.