ISL champs likely to field mix of reserves and regulars

The 132nd edition of Durand Cup kick offs today. There are 24 teams — including two overseas ones — divided into six groups. Matches for Groups A, B and C will take place in Kolkata, while Guwahati will host Group D and E matches. Group F matches will be played in Kokrajhar.

After being reinstated as the season-opener of the calendar, Durand Cup is on its way to regaining lost relevance. There is some excitement in store for local fans on the opening day, with Indian Super League (ISL) champions Mohun Bagan Super Giants taking on a Bangladesh Army XI making its debut in the tournament. The visiting side retained the National Championship last year and is eager to cause an upset against the Kolkata giants.

Mohun Bagan, on the other hand, are taking this tournament as part of their pre-season preparation for the ISL and also the AFC Cup fixture on August 16. In coach Juan Ferrando’s place, his deputy Bastab Roy will manage the side. He is likely to field a mix of reserve and regular players, with Hugo Boumos, Manvir Singh, Liston Colaco and Anwar Ali expected to feature in the opener.

Last year, Mohun Bagan faced a shock defeat against Rajasthan FC and failed to qualify for the knockout stage. They will be keen to make amends in front of home fans at Yuba Bharati Krirangan this time.


The opening match will be preceded by a half-hour cultural programme and opening ceremony. West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be the chief guest.

Mohun Bagan players to watch out for

Suhail Bhatt: The leading goal-scorer for Mohun Bagan in the Calcutta Football League. He has netted seven in five games.

Lalrinriana Hamnte: This midfielder from Mizoram has three goals and as many assists in five games in the CFL.

Engson Singh: The midfielder was named Youth Player of the Year on Mohun Bagan Day awards ceremony. He has three goals and an assist to his name in the local league.

Army bracing for fight

The visitors, coached Abdur Razzak, have players from the Bangladesh Premiere League and Dhaka League and also the Bangladesh Army. Eight players from Dhaka Mohammedan Sporting Club have been included in the squad.

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