The 130th edition of the Durand Cup, the oldest football competition in Asia and third oldest in the world, will begin on September 5 and will run until October 3.

Durand Cup 2021 will feature as many as 16 teams bifurcated in four groups. Five of those 16 teams are from the Indian Super League, three from I-League, two from I-League 2nd Division and six teams from the Indian Armed Forces. Teams participating from the ISL are; Bengaluru FC, Kerala Blasters FC, Hyderabad FC, FC Goa & Jamshedpur FC. Defending champions Gokulam Kerala are joined by fellow I-League teams Mohammedan Sporting and Sudeva Delhi FC.

Durand Cup 2021 groups are as follows:

Group A: Mohammedan Sporting, CRPF FC, FC Bengaluru United, Indian Air Force

Group B: Jamshedpur FC, Sudeva Delhi FC, FC Goa, Army Green

Group C: Delhi FC, Kerala Blasters, Bengaluru FC, Indian Navy

Group D: Gokulam Kerala FC, Hyderabad FC, Army Red, Assam Rifles

The top two teams from each group will qualify for the quarter-finals.

Unlike the previous years, neither East Bengal nor Mohun Bagan - two most successful teams in Durand Cup’s history - will participate in this year’s edition. While East Bengal are in the midst of finalizing their deal with investors, Mohun Bagan decided to decline the invitation as most of their first team members joined the national team and also due to their commitment to the AFC Cup

It is the first time since India’s independence that Durand Cup will be played without these two teams.

Between 1940-2018, Durand Cup was held in Delhi, but was moved to Kolkata in 2019. Given the response the tournament received from the city, this year’s edition will also be held in Kolkata. The venues for Durand Cup 2021 are Kalyani Stadium, Salt Lake Stadium and Mohun Bagan Ground.

The prize pool for the champions of Durand Cup is a cash award of Rs 40 lakhs. Apart from that, the team will also receive the rolling Durand Cup, the President’s Cup and the Shimla Trophy. The losing finalist will receive Rs 20 lakhs and the two semi-finalists will be awarded a cash prize of Rs 5 lakhs each.

Featured photo: Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP