Ivan Vukomanovic I Photo: Twitter | Ivan Vukomanovic
Kochi: Indian Super League (ISL) side Kerala Blasters FC, head coach Ivan Vukomanovic on Tuesday stated that the team is very pleased to participate in the 130th edition of the Durand Cup 2021. The ISL team will be making its debut in Asia's oldest football tournament which will be held in Kolkata between September 5 and October 3.
Hosted by the Durand Football Tournament Society (DFTS), it is an initiative of the Indian Army which began in the year 1888. Being one of the most prestigious football tournaments, the champion of the Durand Cup would receive three unique trophies: The President's Cup, The Durand Cup, and The Shimla Trophy.
Ivan Vukomanovic, head coach of KBFC said: "We are very pleased to participate in this year's Durand Cup. Hope that we will have good games ahead as it is very important to play games in this part of the pre-season. The tournament format could be an extra motivation for our players because we like to compete."
Venues identified for the iconic tournament in Kolkata are Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan (VYBK), Mohun Bagan Club Ground and Kalyani Municipal Stadium Ground.
The tournament, now in its 130th edition, was first held in the Mecca of Indian football (Kolkata) back in 2019, after moving from its longtime venue at Delhi.
At present, Gokulam Kerala is the holder of the Durand Cup. Gokulam won their maiden title under the coaching of Fernando Santiago Varela on August 24, 2019, defeating Mohun Bagan AC 2-1 in Kolkata.
Besides Kerala Blasters FC, the other clubs from India's top division would be FC Goa, Bengaluru FC, Jamshedpur FC, and Hyderabad FC. Challenging them would be the century-old Mohammedan Sporting of Kolkata, who were the first Indian winners of the Cup in 1940 and who would be leading a troika of I-League challengers including defending champions Gokulam Kerala and Sudeva FC of Delhi. FC Bengaluru United and Delhi FC will represent the second division of the Indian football whereas two Indian Army teams (Red and Green), a team from Indian Air Force and Indian Navy, CRPF, and the Assam Rifles round-off the 16.