An all-Bengal cross-border clash first-up to begin 132nd Durand Cup proceedings
Visitors Bangladesh Army Football Team have settled well ahead of the first Durand Cup game against home favourites Mohun Bagan Super Giant
Kolkata, August 02, 2023:
In what is billed as an all-Bengal cross-border clash locally, the visiting Bangladesh Army Football Team (BAFT) takes on the regional might of home favourites Mohun Bagan Super Giant (MBSG) in the first game of the 132nd IndianOil Durand Cup, at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on August 03, 2023, here in the city. The Group A game is scheduled for a 5.45 pm kick-off.
It will be preceded by a half-hour vibrant cultural programme and opening ceremony where the Hon. Chief Minister of West Bengal, Smt. Mamata Banerjee will be the Chief Guest, among other dignitaries present.
The Bangladesh coach Abdur Razzak while accepting the importance of the game for them displayed confidence of a good showing.
The Bangladesh team has brought in eight players from the Dhaka Mohammedan Sporting Club, winners of the local Federation Cup there this year, on loan and have some talented players in their line-up.
Mohun Bagan Super Giant on the other hand has a good problem of plenty and gaffer Bastab Roy in charge of the first match had his cards close to his chest when he said, “Mohun Bagan is currently leading the CFL points table. Big tournaments like the AFC Cup are knocking on the door. Among these, they are beginning their Durand Cup campaign tomorrow. The senior team started their practice just a few days back but the junior team has been practicing for a long time and have already played five CFL matches so far, so it has been decided that in the Durand Cup, it will be a combination of senior and junior team. Closed-door practice has been going on and the coaches will decide which team will play.”
Celebrations have been going on for over a month nationwide in the lead-up to this first game. A 14-city Trophy Tour of the three magnificent Durand Trophies was flagged off jointly from New Delhi by the Army Chief, the Air Force Chief, and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) President on June 30, 2023. Then when they were flagged-in to Kolkata after travelling to the other host cities of Guwahati and Kokrajhar among others, a spectacular BASE jump from The42, Kolkata’s tallest structure, by two Service veterans, Group Captain Kama Singh Oberh and Lt. Col. Satyendra Verma, left the city spellbound as they unfurled the Durand Flags across the city skyline. The Local Organising Committee had also decided to distribute free tickets for this opening game and a packed house is expected.
Twenty-four teams including two foreign teams-a first in 27 years, are ready to vie for glory and nothing will give the local fans more joy than a convincing victory for the home side first-up. However, if the history of recent years is anything to go by, teams will need to be at their competitive best to pocket three points.
Three of the groups A, B, and C are to be played across four venues of Kolkata, while a majority of the Group D and E matches will be hosted by Guwahati’s Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium. Kokrajhar, the newest Durand Cup host city, will be hosting all matches of Group F along with a Group D and E game each. Guwahati and Kokrajhar will also host one quarter-final game each. The rest of the knockouts will be held in Kolkata.
Bengaluru FC are the defending champions, having defeated Mumbai City FC 2-1 in the final of the 131st edition last year at the VYBK.
The scheduled kick-off is at 5.45pm Indian Standard Time (IST).