Rangdajied United began their Meghalaya State League 2023 campaign with a near perfect 2-0 victory against Niaw Wasa United in the opening match of the mega tournament at the Kiang Nangbah Stadium in Jowai today.
There was a goal in each half scored by Wanlamsuk Nongkhlaw (34’) and Damehun Syih (60’) as Rangdajied stamped their mark on MSL Season 3 in front of a packed Jowai stadium in Group B.
It was the 2019 MSL runners-up who were dominant throughout the game against the 2017-18 champions Niaw Wasa, who, despite the enthusiastic home support, could not find a way to beat the solid Rangdajied defence.
Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Shakliar Warjri and Jowai MLA Wailadmiki Shylla attended the opening ceremony as guests.
In his speech, Shylla said that sports cannot exist without the fans and he encouraged all those present to continue to passionately support their favourite teams whether they win or lose, especially the fans of the Jaintia Hills’ clubs.
The MLA also confirmed that the stadium infrastructure would be upgraded by the Meghalaya government and, in his speech, Warjri said that he hoped the work would begin soon and that the detailed project report is being prepared.
He added, “I feel happy and proud to see the quality of football in our state going higher.”
RUFC made their intentions known from the start with a strong Tremiki Lamurong shot blocked by a defender.
At the other end, Mediphrangki Pohleng took a screamer but was not on target. Later, captain Pynishai Lathong could not get sufficiently on top of a cross and headed a chance over the bar.
There was near disaster in the 18th minute when Niaw Wasa conceded a penalty but, in a huge escape, Lamurong sent it wide. His team mate Aibiangmame Nengnong went closer a few minutes after by hitting the crossbar but it was Nongkhlaw who finally managed to find the opener, converting a penalty that was awarded for handball.
After the break Rangdajied came out looking to extend their lead and they did it on the hour when the ball was put perfectly into the box for Syih to slam into the top of the net.
The second half belonged almost completely to RUFC, who launched unrelenting attacks even after their second goal but were kept at bay though Niaw Wasa were unable to find a breakthrough at the other end.
They were not without their impressive moments, though, and will look to step up their game for the next match.
Although the game ended by 5pm, there were also plenty of other activities for everyone, with a Fan Zone that featured music from the talented young singer Jessie Lyngdoh, who has also composed the MSL 2023 anthem, among other acts. Earlier, the rousing opening ceremony performance was conducted by Dapalei and Team. A variety of food stalls also offered plenty of options for spectators.
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