132nd Durand Cup Groups Revealed
Kolkata, July 10, 2023:
The organizers of the 132nd Durand Cup football tournament, set to be played between August 03-September 03, 2023, in the cities of Kolkata, Guwahati, and Kokrajhar, today announced the groups for the 24-participating teams, with defending champions Bengaluru FC clubbed with two popular Kerala sides Kerala Blasters and 2019 champions Gokulam Kerala in Group C, 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 hallowed 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 center 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 their 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) champions Mohun Bagan Super Giant and arch-rivals East Bengal, will certainly be the most eagerly awaited, given both find themselves in Group A. Round glass 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 play at home in Group D alongside twice ISL runners-up FC Goa, while another popular side from the North-East, Shillong Lajong FC, making their Durand Cup debut and a surprise entry team complete the group.
Group E also features two ISL sides Hyderabad FC and Chennaiyin FC grouped with Delhi FC, who have 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 champions 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 quarter-finals taking place in Guwahati and Kokrajhar, while the rest of the knockouts happen in Kolkata.