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Double delight as Royal Wahingdoh win SPL

Royal Wahingdoh players take a victory lap after winning the final. (R) Wahingdoh team members pose with the trophy after winning the SPL in the city on Saturday. (ST)

By Our Reporter

 SHILLONG: Fresh from their victory in the Bordoloi Trophy in Guwahati, Royal Wahingdoh FC doubled their delight by beating arch-rivals Ar-Hima 1-0 in the final of the Shillong Premier League (SPL) at the First Division Ground, Polo here on Saturday.

The winning goal for Wahingdoh came in the 42nd minute when Kareem O Nurrain headed one into the nets from a well crafted free kick taken by skipper Seityasen Singh. Nurrain was also the star in Wahingdoh’s win against Langsning in the Bordoloi Trophy final where he scored twice.

Wahingdoh coach Carlton Chapman gave full credit to his players for winning back-to-back titles in a span of two days.

“We reached Shillong at around 3 am on Saturday. The boys played really well despite the hectic schedule,” he said while adding that around six players who played in Guwahati also took the field in the SPL final.

Wahingdoh , who were also the defending champions, took the attack to the opposition right from the word go at the jam-packed First Division Ground, thronged by a vocal crowd supporting the rival teams.

Wahingdoh put Ar-Hima in the back foot after dominating ball possession in the initial stages of the match. The Royal strikers kept the opposition defenders busy on several occasions in the 1st half. But all credit to the Ar-Hima defenders who kept Chapman’s boys at bay.

Wahingdoh had their first real chance to score in the 25th minute when Kareem O Nurrain’s free kick (20 yard) dipped just before the bar.

It was in the 42nd minute that Nurrain headed one into the nets following a well directed free kick taken by his skipper Seityasen Singh to take Wahingdoh to a 1-0 lead.

Ar-Hima too displayed some great football but their inconsistency ensured that the Royals dominated most of the 1st half.

After the break Ar-Hima looked determined to net the all important equaliser and raised their performance levels to consistently penetrate through the Wahingdoh defence. They created many oppotunities but could not convert any due to ill directed shots and some good work by the Wahingdoh defenders.

It was difficult though to stop the Wahingdoh juggernaut for long and in the counter attack the Royals almost made it 2-0 when Perry Kolie’s powerful strike hit the cross bar in the 60th minute.

Ar-Hima too were guilty of ruining at least three real chances in the closing stages of the match

In the 89th minute, Jeribe Kelechi missed a golden opportunity to score following a major defence lapse on part of Wahingdoh. Kelechi headed the ball over the Royal custodian Nikhil Bernard but the ball missed the net.

Again during the injury time, Kelechi got another opportunity as he had to beat only the goalkeeper but failed to convert.

Ar-Hima coach Subrata Bhattacharya said that there is not much difference in the performance of both the teams in the match.

“The only thing which made the difference is we squandered our chances to score while Wahingdoh converted the same,” Bhattacharya said.

The winners Royal Wahingdoh were given the cash prize of Rs 1.50 lakh along with trophy while runners-up Ar-Hima received Rs 50,000 along with a trophy.

Meghalaya Police Football Team striker Niwan-O-Gatphoh was adjudged as the league’s ‘best striker’ while Ar-Hima centre back Enyinnaya Loveday was adjudged the ‘best defender’ of the tournament.

Wahingdoh goalkeeper Nikhil C Bernard was adjudged the ‘best goalkeeper’ while Langsning midfielder Ho Jun Chin was adjudged the ‘best midfielder’.

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