Bengaluru FC in Group C as 24 teams divided into six groups for 132nd Durand Cup

The 24 teams in the fray for the 132nd Durand Cup football competition to be held in Kolkata, Guwahati and Kokrajhar, have been divided into six groups of four each with defending champion Bengaluru FC clubbed with two popular Kerala sides Kerala Blasters and 2019 champions Gokulam Kerala in Group C alongside Indian Air Force as fourth team.

The 24 teams in the fray for the 132nd Durand Cup football competition to be held in Kolkata, Guwahati and Kokrajhar, have been divided into six groups of four each with defending champion Bengaluru FC clubbed with two popular Kerala sides Kerala Blasters and 2019 champions Gokulam Kerala in Group C alongside Indian Air Force as fourth team.

Of the six groups, three (A, B and C) of them being played in Kolkata which will be the only host city with multiple venues. Kolkata will also host the final at the hallowed Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on September 3.

While most of the Group D and Group E games, barring two, have been slotted in Guwahati’s Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium while Kokrajhar’s SAI centre ground, the newest host city venue, will host a total of nine games, including one of the four quarterfinal games.

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The 132nd Durand Cup, which will be played from August 3 to September 3, sees the return of foreign participation after a gap of 27 years with the Bangladesh Service team placed in Group A while the second foreign team is placed in Group E.

The six group winners and the two best second-placed sides will make the knockout quarterfinal 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, the organisers informed in a release on Monday.

Among the most exciting group matches to be played in Kolkata will be the famous Kolkata derby between reigning Indian Super League (ISL) champions Mohun Bagan Super Giant and arch-rivals East Bengal. The other teams in Group A are Roundglass Punjab FC and Bangladesh Army Team.

The other local giant Mohammedan Sporting, are in Group B, alongside ISL sides Mumbai City FC and Jamshedpur FC with Indian Navy as 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.

(IANS)

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