Kolkata, August 23 (IANS) Five Indian Super League (ISL) franchises and three I-League teams will be among 16 teams battling for the iconic Durand Cup football tournament played in and around Kolkata between September 5 and October 3 this year.
The tournament, now in its 130th edition, was first held in Kolkata in 2019, after moving from its longtime venue Delhi.
Traditionally organized by the Indian Army on behalf of the armed forces, the world’s third oldest and Asia’s oldest football tournament this year will also see the government of West Bengal as joint hosts who have provided support in all aspects of the organization.
In addition to the top ISL franchises FC Goa and Bengaluru FC, the other clubs from India’s top division would be Kerala Blasters, Jamshedpur FC and Hyderabad FC.
Challenging for them would be the century-old Mohammedan Sporting in Kolkata, who were the first Indian winners of the Cup in 1940 and who would lead a troika of I-League challengers including defending champions Gokulam Kerala and Sudeva FC in Delhi.
FC Bengaluru United and Delhi FC will represent the second division of Indian football, while two Indian Army teams (red and green), a team from the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy, CRPF and Assam Rifles will round out the 16th.
Three leading football pitches in Kolkata have been identified for the Durand Cup, namely Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) and Mohun Bagan Club Ground in Kolkata as well as Kalyani Municipal Stadium, which has regularly hosted national football matches over the last few years.
Durand Cup is unique in the sense that the winners are awarded three trophies with two rolling (Durand Cup and Shimla Trophy) and President’s Cup for permanent storage.
The inaugural edition of the Durand Cup was held in Shimla in 1888, when it started as an Army Cup, open only to British Indian Army troops in India, but soon opened up to civilian teams. Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have been the most successful teams, winning the tournament 16 times each.