‘This Year Durand Cup is Much bigger Than Before’: Mohammedan SC’s Dipendu Biswas

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The new longer Indian football season start with the oldest tournament in India – the Durand Cup. In the 131st edition of the tournament, we will see all eleven Indian Super League (ISL) sides along with five I-League clubs and four teams from the Indian armed forces competing for the Durand Cup, the Shimla Trophy and the President’s Cup.

Kolkata giants ATK Mohun Bagan and East Bengal will faceoff in the opener on August 16 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, with the final also scheduled at the same venue on September 18.

Alongside the Salt lake stadium or VYBK and Kishore Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata, the Naihati Stadium in the North 24-Parganas district of West Bengal, Durand Cup will also be played in Guwahati’s Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium and Imphal’s Khuman Lampak stadium.

Mohammedan Sporting Club technical director Dipendu Biswas in an interview opened up on losing in the final last year, playing against ISL sides and some memories of the Durand Cup.

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This time it’s going to be a battle between the I-League, ISL and Army teams. Your views?

Last year Durand Final was between I League and ISL teams. While Mohammedan SC put up an equal fight against FC Goa, Mohammedan lost the match after conceding a goal in extra time. However, in this year’s Durand Cup, all teams will enter the field with much more preparation. So this time it will be understood which team is the best ISL or I-League.

Your Durand Cup memories?

In 1995-96 I participated in the Durand Cup for Tata Football Academy. I scored against Mohun Bagan in the semi-final that year. That match was the turning point of my football life. So from that Durand Cup I was established in Indian football. That’s why the Durand Cup is always a special tournament for me.

Most difficult opposition faced in the Durand Cup?

When I played Durand during my playing career, I think the toughest opponent was Tata Football Academy. And as a team manager, FC Goa seemed to be a tough opponent in the finals last year.

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Durand Cup being the season opener starting with the Kolkata Derby. Your thoughts?

As the Durand Cup starts with a derby match, it will be an advantage that this Durand will spread quickly among sports lovers. So from the beginning, I think there will be extra enthusiasm for the Durand Cup.

Durand Cup then and now. Thoughts on this year’s Durand Cup?

Earlier the Durand Cup was centered only on the city of Delhi. And this tournament was mainly held in winter. But now the Durand Cup has been spread across different states of India. So it can be said that this year Durand is much bigger than before.

Durand Cup being a great platform for youngsters. Your views?

This is why the Durand Cup is a special tournament for junior footballers. When we were at the Tata Football Academy we chose this tournament as the foundation of Indian football. Me, Deepak, Mahesh, Renedy we all came from this Durand. And now the season is starting with this tournament. So junior footballers can prove themselves in Durand Cup and secure their place in ISL.

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Message to the fans who will be following the tournament this season?

This year’s Durand has 11 ISL teams, five I-League teams and four Army teams. So this year’s Durand Cup is going to be quite enjoyable. Besides, being Durand of the three cities, I think the attendance will be sufficient. However, as most of the matches are in Kolkata, I would like to appeal to the sports lovers of Bengal to come to the field and encourage the teams.

How has Indian football developed over this year?

Durand is being held this time with 20 teams, all teams are preparing for the tournament. So this year Durand is more competitive than ever. The more competition a tournament has, the further Indian football will progress.

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