ISL, I-League clubs among 16 teams in Durand Cup 2019

ISL champion Bengaluru FC and I-League winner Chennai City will both take part in Durand Cup 2019, among other outfits from both leagues.

Churchill Brothers squad celebrates its 2009 Durand Cup triumph after beating Mohun Bagan in the final.   -  Getty Images

Kolkata heavyweight Mohun Bagan will take on Mohammedan Sporting in the opening fixture of the 129th edition of the Durand Cup on August 2 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan.

The 2019 Durand Cup will see participation from both I-League and Indian Super League (ISL) clubs along with military outfits.

The third oldest competition in the world will have sixteen teams - five from ISL, six from I-League and one from I-League second division - vying for the top honours. The Indian Army will have two teams - Army Red and Army Green - with the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy also taking part.

The final will be held on August 24.

ISL champion Bengaluru FC will open its account against Army Red on August 8, while I-League winner Chennai City FC will take on Real Kashmir on August 7.

READ | Goa CM writes to PMO for intervention on I-League future

The tournament will be spread across three venues in Kolkata, and two in Kalyani and Siliguri.

The semi-finals and final will be held at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on August 20 and 24 respectively.

The matches are scheduled to be telecast live on Star Sports, according to the organisers.

It will be the first time that Durand Cup will be played outside New Delhi, its traditional venue.

“We wanted to rechristen the tournament and make it a pan-India affair and bring it to Kolkata which is mecca of football. So to make it more attractive we took a gap of three seasons,” said Lt Gen RP Kalita at the pre-tournament press meet.

On being asked why former I-League champion Minerva Punjab was not a part, he said: “I spoke to owner Ranjit Bajaj. They were 10th in the I-League table. We were initially planning to get top six teams from the I-League.

ALSO READ | Igor Stimac: The leagues aren't helping Indian players

“We initially contacted Kerala Blasters. When they said they were unavailable, we got in touch with Gokulam as we wanted a club from Kerala to come.”

“We spoke to the teams as well as with Praful Patel (All India Football Federation President). There are some issues with the transfer window. They assemble the team by August end or September. We couldn’t further delay the tournament as it would have clashed with the Calcutta Football League. So we are happy that the teams are coming and the tournament will happen,” Kalita said.

It is expected that the ISL teams will field their reserve squads.

Three foreigners will be allowed in the playing XI with four in the squad, as sixteen teams will be divided into four groups with the group winners qualifying for the semi-finals.

The winners will bag prize money of Rs 40 lakh and the runners-up will get Rs 20 lakh. The losing semi-finalists will be awarded Rs 5 lakh each.

 

Teams:

Group A: East Bengal, Army Red, Jamshedpur FC, Bengaluru FC

Group B: Mohun Bagan, Mohammedan Sporting, ATK, Indian Navy

Group C: Chennai City FC, Real Kashmir, FC Goa, Army Green

Group D: Chennaiyin FC, Gokulam Kerala, TRAU, Indian Air Force