The 129th edition of the Durand Cup will begin from August 2 in Kolkata with Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting Club taking on each other at the Salt Lake Stadium. This tournament is Asia’s oldest and world’s third oldest cup competition. It is being played in Kolkata for the very first time.
“We wanted to rechristen the tournament and make it a pan India affair this time and bring it to Kolkata because it is the Mecca of Indian football. So to make it more attractive we took a gap of three seasons,” Goal.com quoted Lt Gen RP Kalita as saying.
This edition of the Durand Cup is taking place after a gap of three years. The last edition of the tournament was held in 2016 in which Army Green came out triumphant as they defeated NEROCA FC in the final. It has also been announced that the tournament winners will receive a cash price of Rs 40 lakh. The runners-up will receive Rs 20 lakh and the two semifinalists will receive Rs 5 lakh each.
The first edition of the Durand Cup was played in 1888 as an Army Cup, but later the tournament was opened up for others as well. East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are the most successful teams in the history of the competition, as they have won it 16 times each.
Earlier, Minerva Punjab’s owner Ranjit Bajaj had expressed his displeasure over not getting invited for the tournament. “I spoke to Mr Bajaj. They were 10th in the I-League table last season. We were initially planning to get the top 6 teams from the I-League. As Real Kashmir was taking part in the tournament, to give a pan India approach we had contacted Kerala Blasters but when they said they were unavailable we got in touch with Gokulam Kerala as we wanted a club from Kerala to come. I had told this to Ranjit Bajaj and he was satisfied after that,” Lt Gen RP Kalita said.