Meghalaya and Mizoram qualified for the final of the U-21 men's football event at the 2nd North East Olympic Games 2022 at MFA Turf, Polo Ground, here today by winning their respective semifinal matches.
In front of a packed crowd that spilled out onto streets and any other vantage point around the ground, Meghalaya utterly dominated proceedings for a fantastic 3-0 victory over Manipur under the floodlights.
Meghalaya's boys really wove some magic on their home turf against one of the giant sides of the North East. The hosts were able to rule over Manipur straight from the word go as they scored through Figo Syndai (11') and Nelson Rymbai (20') inside the first quarter of the game.
Manipur showed real fight and were eagerly cheered on by a number of their fans but they could not find a way to break through the Meghalaya defence. Sitting on a two-goal lead, one could be forgiven for thinking that Meghalaya would ease off a little bit but Everbrightson Mylliempdah netted one more for good measure in the 88th minute for a perfect win.
Earlier, Mizoram rallied from a goal down to beat Nagaland 3-1 in the first semifinal.
Pursunep thundered in a long-range strike for Nagaland that caught everyone off guard as it came completely against the run of play in the 11th minute and that swung momentum in their favour for a short while before Mizoram got over the shock of conceding early.
Nagaland were committing a few too many fouls, however, and paid the price when Joseph Lalvenhima was pushed over in the box. He stepped up to take the resulting penalty and converted with ease. With parity restored, Mizoram took control of the game and found two more goals on either side of half time via Aron Vanlalrinchhana (39') and Rohlupuia (51').
Manipur and Nagaland are not out of the competition just yet, as they will face off in the bronze medal match on Tuesday at 4:30pm.
Before then, the women's semifinals will be held on Monday, first between Manipur and Mizoram at 11am before Arunachal versus Sikkim at 4:30pm.