Durand Cup: Defending champions FC Goa clash with Mohammedan Sporting in tournament opener

In a repeat of last year’s final, defending champions FC Goa meet local giants Mohammedan Sporting Club in the opening match of Group A of the 131st edition of the IndianOil Durand Cup.

The game is scheduled to kick off at 19:00 on August 16 at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) in Kolkata.

The Goa side are brimming with young talent and Mohammedan Sporting are in full swing as the first official game of the latest Indian football season gets underway amid a build-up that sees a trophy tour of five cities including Guwahati and Imphal, the two for the first time , host cities held.

The home team’s gaffer Andrey Chernyshov of Russia reiterated the importance of a win at the start of the season and also alluded to last year’s defeat: “We all remember that we lost to FC Goa in the last final. That will of course motivate us in this match. But we also understand that this is the opening game of the tournament and means an added excitement. We have a lot of new players that we want to see in serious games. It is therefore very important for us to start the tournament with a win.”

Led by Deggie Cardozo in this Durand edition, the Gaurs are also brimming with confidence with a well-trained and young squad eager to seize the opportunity to perform on the big stage.

They are led by players like Muhammed Nemil, who first caught the eye with a dream goal à la Sunil Chetri in the previous edition of the Durand. Phrangki Buam and Ayush Chetri also add a lot of solidity to the line-up.

Coach Cardozo was just as enthusiastic as his team when he said: “We look forward to kickstarting our Durand Cup campaign on Tuesday. As we meet Mohammedan SC there will be a repeat of last year’s final. They may have done their homework but so have we and we are totally focused on ourselves and what we can do to achieve a good result.”

He added: “It’s important to start the tournament on a positive note, with a good result, and we hope to achieve that on Tuesday. The fact that the game is being played in front of fans gives us additional motivation.”

The Black & White brigade, on the other hand, has retained the core of last year’s roster, with Trinidadian marksman Marcus Joseph still leading the lines. Players like Milan Singh in midfield and Abhishek Ambekar bring the experience of players like ex-Lokomotiv Moscow and Tajik international Nuriddin Davronov bringing in the likely X-factor.

All in all, it promises to be, at best, a competitive football game on a tough outfield, with rain lashing the city of joy in the days leading up to the game. Whoever slides best will slide in with a win.

Ahead of the match, there will be a short but elaborate and lively opening ceremony, featuring bands from the armed forces and the tournament’s theme song performed by star singers Papon and Rewben Mashangwa.

(Watch the game LIVE and all 47 games of the 131st IndianOil Durand Cup:

Broadcast: Sports18 1 SD & HD and Sports18 Khel, live stream: VOOT)


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