Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], August 23 (ANI): Five Indian Super League (ISL) franchises and three I-League teams will be among 16-teams vying for the iconic Durand Cup football tournament, to be played in and around Kolkata between September 5-October 3, 2021.
The tournament, now in its 130th edition was first held in the Mecca of Indian football (Kolkata) back in 2019, after moving from its longtime venue at Delhi.
Traditionally organized by the Indian Army on behalf of our Armed Forces, the World's third oldest and Asia's oldest football tournament will this year also see the Government of West Bengal as joint hosts, who have been providing admirable support in all aspects of the organization.
At present, Gokulam Kerala is the holder of the Durand Cup. Gokulam won their maiden title under the coaching of Fernando Santiago Varela on August 24, 2019, defeating Mohun Bagan AC 2-1 in Kolkata.
Besides 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 them would be the century-old Mohammedan Sporting of Kolkata, who were the first Indian winners of the Cup in 1940 and who would be leading a troika of I-League challengers including defending champions Gokulam Kerala and Sudeva FC of Delhi.
FC Bengaluru United and Delhi FC will represent the second division of the Indian football whereas two Indian Army teams (Red and Green), a team from Indian Air Force and Indian Navy, CRPF, and the Assam Rifles round-off the 16.
Three leading footballing venues of the State have been identified for the 130th Durand Cup, namely the Vivekananda YuvaBharatiKrirangan (VYBK) and the Mohun Bagan Club Ground in Kolkata as well as the Kalyani Municipal Stadium Ground, which has been regularly hosting national level football matches over the past few years.
The Durand Cup is unique in the sense the winners are awarded three trophies with two rolling ones (the Durand Cup and the Shimla Trophy) and the President's Cup for permanent keeping. (ANI)