Thursday, April 25, 2024
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Meghalaya, Kerala share spoils

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SANTOSH TROPHY

By Our Reoprter

Shillong, Feb 25: Meghalaya secured their first point in the 77th National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy 2023-24 final round with a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Kerala in Itanagar on Sunday.
Having suffered defeats in their first two Group A encounters, Meghalaya entered the match eager to turn their fortunes around. Despite Kerala, the 2022 champions, taking an early lead through Naresh Bhagyanathan’s fourth-minute strike, Meghalaya displayed resilience throughout the game, relentlessly seeking an equalizer.
Coach Khlain Pyrkhat Syiemlieh implemented strategic changes, making five alterations to the lineup that faced Assam two days earlier.
The inclusion of Siwel Rymbai in goal, along with Damonlang Pathaw, Dawanplielad Myrchiang, Kitboklang Pale, and Nelson Rymbai in the starting XI, signaled Meghalaya’s determination to regroup and compete fiercely.
Kerala’s early goal, orchestrated by Riswanali Edakkavil’s precise pass to Naresh Bhagyanathan, tested Meghalaya’s defensive resolve. However, stout defending, exemplified by Dawanplielad’s crucial goal-line clearance, prevented Kerala from extending their lead.Meghalaya’s offensive efforts intensified as the match progressed, with Sheen Sohktung emerging as a pivotal figure in their quest for parity. Sheen’s attacking prowess was evident as he came close to scoring on multiple occasions, including a header narrowly missing the target and a curling free-kick expertly saved by Kerala goalkeeper Mohammed Azhar.
The second half witnessed Meghalaya’s relentless pursuit of the equalizer, with missed opportunities adding to the drama.
Despite several clear-cut chances, Meghalaya struggled to convert until the 77th minute when Sheen was brought down in the box, earning a penalty. Although Azhar saved Sheen’s initial spot-kick, the forward capitalized on the rebound, slotting home to level the scores.
In other matches, Goa continued their impressive form with a 2-1 victory over Services. The upcoming clash between Assam and hosts Arunachal Pradesh promises further excitement for football enthusiasts.
Meghalaya’s next challenge awaits them against Goa on February 28 at 7 PM, where they aim to build on their newfound momentum and secure a crucial victory in their quest for Santosh Trophy glory.
As Meghalaya celebrates their hard-earned point against Kerala, the team’s resilience and determination serve as a testament to their competitive spirit in the tournament. With their maiden point secured, Meghalaya now looks ahead to their upcoming fixture against Goa with renewed confidence and determination.
Coach Syiemlieh and his squad will undoubtedly draw inspiration from their gritty performance against Kerala as they strive to continue their upward trajectory.

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