The groups for the 132nd Durand Cup football tournament, set to be played between August 03-September 03, 2023, in the cities of Kolkata, Guwahati and Kokrajhar, were announced on Monday.
Defending champion Bengaluru FC has been clubbed in Group C with two popular Kerala sides - Kerala Blasters and 2019 champion Gokulam Kerala, with the matches to be held in Kolkata. The Indian Air Force is the fourth side in the group.
The teams have been clubbed into six groups of four teams each, with three (A, B and C) of them, being played in Kolkata, which will be the only host city with multiple venues.
The city will also host the final at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on September 03, 2023. While most of the Group D and Group E games, barring two, have been slotted in Guwahati’s Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium. Kokrajhar’s SAI centre ground, the newest host city venue, will host a total of nine games, including one of the four quarter-final games.
Six group winners and the two best second-placed sides will make the knockout stage. In the 131st edition, Indian talisman Sunil Chhetri led Bengaluru FC to win its maiden Durand Cup crown, defeating Mumbai City FC 2-1 in the final, played at the VYBK.
Among the most exciting group matches to be played in Kolkata, the famous Kolkata derby between reigning and four-time Indian Super League (ISL) champion Mohun Bagan Super Giant and arch-rival East Bengal, will certainly be the most eagerly awaited, given both find themselves in Group A. RoundGlass Punjab FC, the first ever side to be promoted to the ISL and the Bangladesh Army Team are the other two sides in the group.
The other local giant, Mohammedan Sporting, is in Group B alongside ISL sides Mumbai City FC and Jamshedpur FC. The Indian Navy is the fourth team in Group B.
Guwahati local ISL side North East United FC also plays at home in Group D alongside twice ISL runner-up FC Goa, while another popular side from the North-East, Shillong Lajong FC, will make its Durand Cup debut and may a surprise entry team complete the group.
Group E features two ISL sides, Hyderabad FC and Chennaiyin FC, grouped with Delhi FC, which has been newly promoted to the second division I-League this year and the service team of Nepal, Tribhuvan Army Football Club.
Group F, to be played in Kokrajhar, features the local Bodoland Team, also making a debut in the tournament this year, rubbing shoulders against the likes of Super Cup champion Odisha FC and I-League side Rajasthan United FC. The Indian Army team completes Group F.
The 132nd Durand Cup also sees a return of foreign participation after a gap of 27 years, and while the Bangladesh Service team has been placed in Group A, the second foreign team is placed in Group E.
A total of 43 matches, including the final, are scheduled, with two of the four quarterfinals taking place in Guwahati and Kokrajhar, while the rest of the knockouts will take place in Kolkata.
- India vs England Live Score Updates, 4th Test Day 3: ENG 139/8, leads by 185 runs; Foakes, Bashir frustrate IND
- Ranji Trophy Live Score 2024 Quarterfinals Day 3 Updates: Karnataka stumbles vs Vidarbha; Solanki smashes century vs Mumbai
- Yathiraj, Pramod and Krishna win gold medals at Para Badminton World Championships
- Fighting knock from fighter’s son: Dhruv Jurel walks in footsteps of father, a Kargil War veteran
- Gopi Thonakal wins elite men’s race in New Delhi Marathon