Shillong: Dajiedlang Wanshnong’s hat-trick helped Meghalaya kickstart the 2nd North East Olympic Games with a commanding 6-1 victory over Sikkim in the U-21 men’s football competition at the MFA Turf, Third Ground, Polo on Monday. 

While the 2nd NEOG 2022 officially begins Thursday, the football event kicked off early with an eye to providing the players adequate rest time between matches.

Playing the final game of the triple-header opening day, Wanshnong produced a hat-trick (23′, 32′, 53′) for Meghalaya before substitute Wadajied Kynsai Ryngkhlem (90’+3, 90’+4) and Oresterwell Langshiang (90’+5) found the net thrice in stoppage time to power the hosts to a sound start.

Sikkim’s lone goal was scored by Swarneem Gurung in the 66th minute. 

Meghalaya and Sikkim had the honour of playing the inaugural match under the new lights at the MFA Turf that were introduced for the games.

The players also had the privilege of meeting former India international footballer Eugeneson Lyngdoh before the start of the match and Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, who presented the Man-of-the-Match award to Wanshnong for his stellar performance. 

Sikkim did well early on to hold Meghalaya off but the deadlock was broken in the 23rd minute when Figo Syndai’s shot was pushed into the air by Sikkim goalkeeper Sushil Limboo and Wanshnong headed it in. His second strike was a stunning long-range shot that curled up and over the goalie.

Just before half-time, Gurung had his first good attempt but Meghalaya custodian Banshanskhem Kharsyntiew made a brilliant dive to his right to effect a save. 

Another cracker of a goal early in the second half earned Wanshnong his hat-trick before Gurung pulled one back for Sikkim, which gave their vocal supporters in the stands something to really cheer about. 

Just when it looked like the match would end 3-1 in the hosts’ favour, the floodgates opened, with Ryngkhlem netting a brace and Langshiang, another substitute, blasting the ball to make it 6-1 for Meghalaya. 

Earlier in the day, Nagaland defeated Arunachal Pradesh 2-0 while Manipur blanked Assam 3-0.

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