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Durand Cup: 130th edition kicks off sans East Bengal-Mohun Bagan, Mohammedan SC vs Indian Air force in opener

Mohammedan SC – the first civilian club to win the Durand Cup in 1940, are the sole flag-bearers of Kolkata football in this year’s tournament.

The 130th edition of the oldest club football tournament in Asia – The Durand Cup, will finally kick off on Sunday featuring the Group A clash between Mohammedan Sporting Club and the Indian Air Force football team. The match is slated for a 4:15 PM kick-off at the Vivekananda Yubabharati Krirangan (VYBK). The curtain-raiser of the tournament will be preceded by an opening ceremony, where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be the chief guest.

Mohammedan SC – the first civilian club to win the Durand Cup in 1940, are the sole flag-bearers of Kolkata football in this year’s tournament. Naturally, the grand old club will have incredible backing from a tremendously passionate fan-base from all over the city. As a result, expectations will be sky high.

The Black Panthers’ Head Coach, Andrey Chernyshov is no stranger to pressure, having managed the Russian U21 and men’s senior football team (as assistant coach) from the dugouts. Now one of Mohammedan’s own, the head coach addressed how his side will be coping with the weight of expectations.

“There is pressure in every game and every tournament. The fans and the club’s management expect victories from us. We talk a lot about this with the players and they are ready for it”, he said.

“We trained well during the preparatory period and played a lot. We have gathered a lot of good players who create a strong team. We do not think about the whole season, we always think about the game that awaits us,” he added.

Speaking on how his side have been preparing, he further said, “We are happy with the conditions that we have. The training is going well. We want to show good combination football.”

Durand sans East Bengal and Mohun Bagan

East Bengal are still busy making a team after a long-drawn saga with the investors. Bagan, who did conduct pre-seasons, played the AFC Cup group stage and qualified for the inter-zonal semi-final and then gave a break to the squad. But that won’t dwindle down the excitement among fans, belives Manoj Tiwary, Minister of State for Affairs of Sports and Youth in the West Bengal Assembly.

“The enthusiasm will not die down. Kolkata has always been a sports-loving city. It’s true we would have loved Mohun Bagan and East Bengal to play but circumstances haven’t allowed. Unfortunate but great opportunity to make a name for themselves,” said Manoj Tiwary, Minister of State for Affairs of Sports and Youth in the West Bengal Assembly,” Tiwary told the indianexpress.com.

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