An all Bengal cross-border clash first-up to begin 132nd Durand Cup proceedings -
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An all Bengal cross-border clash first-up to begin 132nd Durand Cup proceedings

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Visitors Bangladesh Army Football Team have settled well ahead of first Durand Cup game against home favourites Mohun Bagan Super Giant

 

Mohun Bagan Super Giant players at practice a day ahead of their opening 132nd Durand Cup game.

Khel Today Bureau 

Kolkata: In what is billed as an all Bengal cross-border clash locally, the visiting Bangladesh Army Football Team (BAFT) take on the regional might of home favourites Mohun Bagan Super Giant (MBSG) in the first game of the 132nd IndianOil Durand Cup, at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on August 03, 2023, here in the city. The Group A game is scheduled for a 5.45pm kick-off.

It will be preceded by a half an hour vibrant cultural programme and opening ceremony where the Hon. Chief Minister of West Bengal, Smt. Mamata Banerjee will be the Chief Guest, among other dignitaries present.

The Bangladesh coach Abdur Razzak while accepting the importance of the game for them displayed confidence of a good showing.

The Bangladesh team have brought in eight players from the Dhaka Mohammedan Sporting Club, winners of the local Federation Cup there this year, on loan and have some talented players in their line-up.

Mohun Bagan Super Giant on other hand have a good problem of plenty and gaffer Bastab Roy in charge of the first match had his cards close to his chest when he said, “Mohun Bagan is currently leading the CFL points table. Big tournaments like the AFC Cup are knocking on the door. Among these they are beginning their Durand Cup campaign tomorrow. Senior team has started their practice just a few days back but the junior team has been practicing for a long time and have already played five CFL matches so far, so it has been decided that in the Durand Cup it will be a combination of senior and junior team. Closed door practice has been going on and the coaches will decide which team will play.”

Celebrations have been going on for over a month and nationwide in the lead-up to this first game. A 14-city Trophy Tour of the three magnificent Durand Trophies was flagged off jointly from New Delhi by the Army Chief, the Air Force Chief and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) President on June 30, 2023. Then when they were flagged-in to Kolkata after travelling to the other host cities of Guwahati and Kokrajhar among others, a spectacular BASE jump from The42, Kolkata’s tallest structure, by two Service veterans, Group Captain Kama Singh Oberh and Lt. Col. Satyendra Verma, left the city spellbound as they unfurled the Durand Flags across the city skyline. The Local Organising Committee had also decided to distribute free tickets for this opening game and a packed house is expected.

Twenty-four teams including two foreign teams-a first in 27 years, are ready to vie for glory and nothing will give the local fans more joy than a convincing victory for the home side first-up. However, if the history of recent years is anything to go by, teams will need to be at their competitive best to pocket three points.

Three of the groups A, B and C are to be played across four venues of Kolkata, while a majority of the Group D and E matches will be hosted by Guwahati’s Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium. Kokrajhar, the newest Durand Cup host city, will be hosting all matches of Group F along with a Group D and E game each. Guwahati and Kokrajhar will also host one quarter-final game each. The rest of the knockouts will be held in Kolkata.

Bengaluru FC are the defending champions, having defeated Mumbai City FC 2-1 in the final of the 131stEdition last year at the VYBK.

You can watch the LIVE coverage of the 132nd Durand Cup 2023 on the Sony Sports Ten 2 channels as well as livestream on SonyLIV . The scheduled kick-off is at 5.45pm Indian Standard Time (IST).

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