Durand Cup: Mohammedan Sporting to clash with IAF in opener

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Kolkata, Aug 25 (IANS) The groups and fixtures for the much anticipated 130th edition of the Durand Cup, Asia’s oldest football tournament, have now been confirmed.

As many as sixteen teams across four groups will vie for top honours in the oldest and most prestigious tournament in Indian football to be played in and around Kolkata from September 5 to October 3.

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The matches will start at 3 p.m. on all days till the quarter-final stage, except the opening match which starts at 4:15 p.m. The timings for the semi-finals and the final match will be confirmed later.

The draw has multiple enticing Indian Super League (ISL) franchise versus I-League club encounters, and also pits the biggest names from Indian football’s premier division against some of Durand Cup’s stalwarts.

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Kolkata giants Mohammedan Sporting Club — the first Indian winners of the Durand Cup have been drawn in Group A, alongside Bengaluru United, the Indian Air Force (IAF), and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). The Group A fixture between IAF and Mohammedan SC will be the opening match of the tournament.

Group B has all the ingredients for a potential ‘Group of Death’, featuring Indian Super League (ISL) sides FC Goa and Jamshedpur FC, alongside I-League side Sudeva Delhi FC and 2016 Durand Cup winners Army Green.

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Bengaluru Football Club and Kerala Blasters Football Club are drawn in Group C, pitting the two ISL sides against Delhi FC and the Indian Navy football team. For the Blasters, this tournament would also mark their Durand Cup debut.

The fourth and final group will see Assam Rifles and Army Red locking horns with Hyderabad FC from the ISL and the reigning Durand Cup and I-League Champions, Gokulam Kerala.

The top two from each group would advance to the quarter-finals. The two semi-finals are scheduled for September 27 and September 29. The final will take place on October 3.

The Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK), Kalyani Municipality Stadium and Mohun Bagan Club Ground will serve as the three venues for this year’s tournament.

Four groups:

Group A — Indian Air Force Football Team, Bengaluru United, CRPF, Mohammedan Sporting Club

Group B — Army Green Football Team, FC Goa, Jamshedpur FC, Sudeva Delhi FC

Group C — Bengaluru Football Club, Delhi FC, Indian Navy Football Team, Kerala Blasters Football Club

Group D — Assam Rifles Football Team, Army Red Football Team, Gokulam Kerala Football Club, Hyderabad FC

Key fixtures of the tournament:

September 5: Opening Match — Indian Air Force Football Team v Mohammedan SC

September 27: Semi-final 1

September 29: Semi-final 2

October 3: Final

ISL team opening games:

September 6: Jamshedpur FC v Sudeva Delhi FC (Group B)

September 7: FC Goa v Army Green Football Team (Group B)

September 11: Kerala Blasters FC v Indian Navy Football Team (Group C)

September 12: Assam Rifles Football Team v Hyderabad FC (Group D)

September 15: Bengaluru FC v Kerala Blasters FC (Group C)

ISL v ISL face-off:

September 15: Bengaluru FC v Kerala Blasters FC

September 17: Jamshedpur FC v FC Goa

I-League team opening games:

September 5: Indian Air Force Football Team v Mohammedan Sporting Club (Group A)

September 6: Jamshedpur FC v Sudeva Delhi FC (Group B)

September 12: Gokulam Kerala FC v Army Red Football Team (Group D)

— IANS

cs/kh

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