The oldest tournament in Asia will be played in Kolkata in September.
The 130th edition of the Durand Cup will take place next month. The third oldest tournament in the world was not held last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the pandemic ravaging the country only the Indian Super League (ISL), I-League and the I-League Qualifiers took place, under restrictions and in a bio-bubble.
The Durand Football Tournament Society and the Additional Directorate General of Public Information, Indian Army both confirmed that the tournament will go ahead this year. The host city will most likely be Kolkata in West Bengal. The football-crazy city also played host to the 2019 edition.
As confirmed by ADG PI – Indian Army, Durand Cup 2021 will be held from September 5 to October 3, 2021 under the aegis of the Indian Army. This also falls in line with the upcoming season of the ISL and the I-League. The top flight of Indian football will start from November 2021 onwards, while the second tier will likely commence from December 2021. The I-League Qualifiers are set for September too, but the participating teams in the Durand Cup will not be a part of it.
Gokulam Kerala are the reigning champions of the tournament. The I-League outfit overcame Mohun Bagan 2-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium. They became the first club from Kerala to lift the title after 22 years.
Local reports also suggest that several prestigious clubs are going to participate in the 130th edition of the Durand Cup. The previous edition saw teams like Gokulam Kerala, Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, ATK reserves and more take part. This year, one can expect ISL teams like Mumbai City FC, NorthEast United, Kerala Blasters FC Goa to also be part of the 16-team tournament.
It will be interesting to see if the ISL teams send their reserves or senior players. The tournament will act as the perfect preparatory set of fixtures ahead of the 2021-22 season’s start.