The stage is all set for the Asia’s oldest football tournament – the Durand Cup – to be played in Guwahati and Kokrajhar along with Kolkata. On July 15, the trophies of the 132nd Durand Cup were unveiled in Guwahati during its three-day city tour.
Assam sports and youth welfare minister Nandita Gorlosa formally unveiled the trophies in the presence of general officer commanding-in-chief of Eastern Command Lt Gen Rana Pratap Kalita and others.
The Durand Cup football tournament, organized by the Indian army on behalf of the three services is the only cup tournament in the country which pits service teams along with the top teams from different divisions of Indian football.
It is set for kick-off on August 3 with Guwahati hosting nine matches, with a Northeast derby between local side NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) and debutants Shillong Lajong scheduled as the first game on August 4.
All games of the Guwahati edition, including one quarterfinal knockout game will be played at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium at Sarusajai Sports Complex. The final is scheduled for September 3 in Kolkata.
Guwahati will be playing host to the Durand Cup for the second year running.
Addressing the gathering on the occasion Nandita Gorlosa said: “Assam has been making exceptional progress in sports in recent times with our young athletes representing Indian teams across disciplines. In this context the staging of such premiere national tournaments like the Durand Cup, gives a further boost, particularly to our state’s young and talented footballers, as they get an opportunity to see their favourite teams and stars play in front of them. It is also a matter of great joy for our brothers and sisters in Kokrajhar, which has become the second venue from the state to become a Durand host city.”
She also thanked the Indian army and the Eastern Command under Lt Gen Kalita for organizing this iconic tournament in Assam with such enthusiasm, efficiency and professionalism.
Lt Gen Kalita who also addressed the gathering spoke about the rich tradition of the Durand Cup and its long association with the Indian Armed Forces.
The three trophies unique to the tournament are the Durand Cup (a rolling trophy and the original prize), the Shimla Trophy (also a rolling trophy and first given by the resident of Shimla in 1904) and the President’s Cup (for permanent keep and first presented by Dr Rajendra Prasad, India’s first President, in 1956).
The trophies began their tour of Guwahati on July 15 and will visit such landmarks as Royal Global University, the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Gauhati Town Club, Maa Kamakhya Temple, Govindam Sweets, B Borooah College and Roodraksh Mall, among others.
The trophies will also be on public display at the State War Memorial on July 15, at the City Centre Mall on July 16 and at the Cotton College and IOCL on July 17.
The three Durand trophies were jointly flagged off for a 15-city Trophy Tour on June 30 in New Delhi, by General Manoj Pande, Chief of Army Staff, Indian army; Air Chief Marshal VK Chaudhary, Chief of Air Staff and Kalyan Chaubey, president of All India Football Federation (AIFF).
This time the Durand Cup will have 24 teams, up from 20 last time, including all 12 Indian Super League (ISL) sides. Service teams from neighbouring Bangladesh and Nepal will also be participating in the legacy tournament, making foreign participation in the legendary tournament happening after a long gap of 27 years.