The Durand Cup football tournament is all set to return to the Indian football scene with a refreshing new look. The Indian Army along with the three Service chiefs will organise the Durand Cup for the first time after 2016, in which the Army Green emerged as champions.
The Durand Cup football tournament was started by the British in India in the year 1888 and at that time it was played among British, Scottish and Indian teams primarily. The tournament is named after its founder, Sir Mortimer Durand, Foreign Secretary in charge of India from 1884 to 1894.
The tournament is the third oldest in the world and the oldest football tournament in Asia.
It was primarily held in Indian Capital New Delhi after the tournament was transferred from Shimla in 1940 but for the first time it is set to move out of its traditional venue and will be hosted by three cities of West Bengal- Kolkata, Kalyani and Siliguri.
Durand Cup will commence on August 2 and will finish on 24th of same month. It will be the 129th edition of the tournament.
This time to make the tournament interesting, which is played in a league-cum-knockout format, six Indian Super League (ISL) teams have been invited to play alongside six I-league teams and the other four teams in the tournament will be fielded by the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Army will have two teams, Army Red and Army Green.
Among the list of teams invited, Gokulam Kerala FC and Bengaluru FC have confirmed their participation.
“Durand Cup is a prestigious tournament and there were no second thoughts to participate when we got the invite. Already we are on verge of completing our transfer targets and our preseason will start by July 15. We have high hopes on the squad and we will be aiming for top honors in the historic tournament,” said Gokulam Kerala FC president VC Praveen.
Royal Scouts Fusiliers won the inaugural edition of the Durand Cup back in 1888. Mohammedan Sporting Club became the first Indian team to win the tournament in 1940, while East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are the most successful teams in the tournament, having claimed the silverware 16 times each. Talks are on for its telecast on TV with Star Sports and DD Sports.