ANI Photo | Durand Cup preview: Southern rivals Bengaluru FC, Kerala Blasters in competitive Group C

Kerala Blasters and Bengaluru FC in action. (Photo- ISL)

New Delhi [India], July 31 (ANI): The Durand Cup will raise the curtains on the 2023-24 Indian football season that promises to be longer, bigger and better as India’s biggest clubs begin their quest for silverware. 
The competition, which is the oldest football tournament in Asia, carries significant prestige. The Indian Super League (ISL) clubs will be looking to add a major confidence boost ahead of the new league season.
Group C features two ISL teams in the shape of southern rivals Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC, who have rubbed shoulders in many crunch games last season. They are joined by Gokulam Kerala FC, who have been one of the most consistent teams in the I-League over the last few years and will battle fellow Kerala outfit Kerala Blasters for bragging rights, as per a press release from ISL. 
Their clash with Bengaluru FC could also provide fireworks as the southern rivalries play out. 
The final team in the pool in Indian Air Force, Durand Cup runners-up in 1955. Plying their trade in the Delhi Premier League, the Services outfit will test the other teams with their top-notch fitness levels. 
The Air Force are eight-time champions in New Delhi’s top-flight and have a history of winning big trophies like the DCM trophy, albeit in the distant past. 
Kerala Blasters versus Bengaluru FC encounter has always had that edge about it, but the upcoming clash in the Durand Cup will have even more weighting on it after what unfolded between the two teams last season. 
The Blues knocked the Blasters out in the ISL playoffs and edged them out in Super Cup, where the two teams were pitted together. Bengaluru FC won two out of the four matches against Kerala Blasters who recorded one victory, but the Blues came out on top in the crunch games. 
The two sides will renew their rivalry in the Durand Cup and the Blasters will be keen to get one over their rivals and avoid being on the receiving end. The match between these southern rivals is one to watch out for in the Durand Cup. 
Kerala Blasters FC will take on Gokulam Kerala for the first time at a national-level tournament as the two clubs from Kerala will look to have the edge over the other. 
The Kochi outfit will face the Kozhikode side in what is expected to be a crunch Group C match that will be of special interest for the state of Kerala which have in the past struggled to have their own clubs in big tournaments. But now, with two clubs fighting for a knockout spot in the Durand Cup, the Kerala Blasters FC vs Gokulam Kerala rivalry is seeming like a mouthwatering prospect.

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