Kolkata derby to kick off Durand Cup on August 16

Season’s first Kolkata derby between ATK Mohun Bagan and East Bengal at the Saltlake Stadium on August 16 will kick off the 131st Durand Cup, according to the fixture which was announced on Wednesday. The city will have three venues — the Saltlake Stadium and Kishore Bharati Krirangan and the Naihati Stadium in the North 24-Parganas district.

The tournament will also have matches in Guwahati and Imphal Khuman Lampak stadium. The Saltlake Stadium, which will host the summit clash on September 18, will play host to 10 games, including the opening derby between ATK Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, as well as all seven knockout games.

Guwahati and Imphal will host one of the four groups and a total of 10 games each. The number of teams have increased from 16 to 20.

A symbol of India’s football history and culture, the Durand Cup is Asia’s oldest and the world’s third oldest football tournament, held between 16 top Indian football clubs across divisions. Organized by the Indian Armed Forces, the Durand Cup has been the breeding ground for India’s best footballing talent, over the years.

The inaugural edition happened in Shimla in 1888, when it started off as an Army Cup, open only to the British Indian Army troops in India, but soon opened up to civilian teams. Named after its founder, Sir Mortimer Durand, Foreign Secretary of British India from 1884 to 1894, the iconic tournament reached its 130th edition in 2021. Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have been the most successful teams, winning the tournament 16 times each.

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