Mumbai/Shillong, January 31, 2024: The Meghalaya football team emerged as the champions, clinching a sensational 2-0 victory over Punjab in the highly anticipated finals of the Khelo India Youth Games 2023 held in Chennai on January 31. The thrilling win marked the culmination of an extraordinary journey for Meghalaya, maintaining an impeccable undefeated streak from the group stage to the title-deciding clash.
In an intense showdown against Punjab, Badondor Marbaniang seized the spotlight with two crucial goals, securing the championship for Meghalaya. The leadership of Captain Colinsalmon Lyngdoh played a pivotal role in the team’s success throughout the tournament.
Placed in Group A alongside formidable opponents such as Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh, Meghalaya asserted their dominance by topping the group and advancing to the semifinals. Placed in Group A alongside formidable opponents such as Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh, Meghalaya asserted their dominance by topping the group and advancing to the semifinals. The Meghalaya Football Team exhibited exceptional prowess in the league matches. In the first match, Meghalaya triumphed over Uttar Pradesh with a convincing 4-1 victory. Also, hard-fought battle saw Meghalaya emerge victorious against Punjab with a score of 2-1. Moreover , in another closely contested match, Meghalaya secured a 2-1 win against Tamil Nadu.
The semifinal clash against Jharkhand proved to be a high-octane encounter, with Meghalaya securing a thrilling 5-3 victory. Mebanlamlynti Marsharing’s outstanding hat-trick during this match solidified his position as Meghalaya’s top scorer, tallying an impressive 7 goals in the tournament.
In response to the team’s stellar success, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Conrad K Sangma, expressed his elation, stating, “This victory not only brings pride to Meghalaya but also showcases the immense talent and dedication of our youth. Congratulations to Team Meghalaya for their outstanding performance and bringing home the Khelo India Youth Games 2023 championship. This triumph is a testament to the spirit of sportsmanship and hard work that defines our state.”
Speaking on the sidelines of the victory, Sports Minister Shri Shakliar Warjri stated, “The triumphant success of Meghalaya football team in the Khelo India Youth Games 2023 is a testament to our unwavering commitment to sports infrastructure development and investment. The state’s dedication to creating top-notch facilities and fostering a culture of athletic excellence has played a pivotal role in achieving this remarkable victory.”
Acknowledging the exceptional performance of the players, credit is also due to the coaching staff, led by Head Coach and CDM Jeffrey Walarpih. The collective efforts of Coach Beneslaus Khyriem and Manager Andy Lyngdoh Nongpiur played a vital role in shaping Meghalaya’s triumphant journey, showcasing the significance of teamwork both on and off the field.
The journey commenced with a rigorous selection trial on January 4th and 5th, 2024, followed by an intensive Coaching cum Selection Camp from January 6th to 17th, 2024, where 25 skilled players were chosen to represent Meghalaya on the national stage.
A grand send-off programme was organised on January 16, 2024, hosted by the esteemed Khlain Pyrkhat Syiemlieh, renowned football coach of the Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs (DSYA). The programme was attended by prominent figures, including Hamlet Dohling, President of the Meghalaya Football Association (MFA), Cliff Nongrum, Vice President of MFA, Freddy Kharpran, Convenor of the Youth Cell at MFA, Ailad K. Kynta, a distinguished player from Meghalaya, and members of the DSYA.
The team embarked on their journey from Shillong on January 17, 2024, and subsequently departed from Guwahati Airport on January 19, 2024, geared up for the challenge that awaited them in the Khelo India Youth Games.
Additionally, the team is scheduled to return from Tamil Nadu on February 1, 2024, departing from Chennai’s international airport. A formal reception, including a dignified roadshow and felicitation, has been arranged to warmly receive the team upon their arrival.
Meghalaya’s victory not only reflects the individual prowess of its players but also underscores the importance of outstanding teamwork and strategic guidance provided by their dedicated coaching ensemble.