Guwahati: Chief Minister of Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma unveiled three Durand Cup trophies at a ceremony here on Thursday.
The 134-year-old iconic Durand Cup football tournament is being hosted by Assam for the very first time and as part of a trophy tour involving five cities, Guwahati, the venue for 10 Group D matches, was chosen as the first stop.
Sarma said on Twitter: “Happy to unveil 3 trophies from the 134-year-old Durand Cup, Asia’s oldest football tournament, to be held for the first time in Assam from August 17 to September 4 in Guwahati. 20 teams from across the country , including 11 ISL teams, will participate.”
“I urge all sports enthusiasts in Assam and Northeast to enjoy the Durand Cup matches. We will arrange special buses for spectators. My thanks to the Indian Army for selecting Guwahati from 5 cities in the country to host the first 10 Group D matches of the prestigious tournament,” said Sarma.
Lieutenant General KK Repswal, Chief of Staff, Eastern Command and Chairman of the Durand Organizing Committee; Lieutenant General KC Panchanathan, Commander-in-Chief, 101 Area, and Major General Vikas Saini, GOC, 51 Sub Area attended the ceremony.
“I thank the Honorable Prime Minister for freeing up his busy schedule to encourage us in this effort to further promote and spread the love of football in the state. The cooperation with the Assam government has been phenomenal and we are confident that this will herald a new beginning for the game in the state,” said Lieutenant General Repswal.
Twenty top teams in the country, including all 11 teams from the top division Indian Super League (ISL) are competing in the tournament against 16 teams last year.
The matches in Guwahati are played at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium.
The three trophies, the Durand Cup (a rolling trophy and the original prize), the Shimla Trophy (also a rolling trophy and first awarded by the people of Shimla in 1904) and the President’s Cup (for permanent preservation and for the first time awarded by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, India’s first president, in 1956) tours five cities.
The trophies were flagged from Kolkata on July 19, 2022 and after being in Guwahati for two days, the trophies would be taken to Imphal, the first hosts. It will then proceed to Jaipur as the state of Rajasthan would line up a team for the first time and then make a final stop at the home of the defending champions FC Goa before returning to Kolkata on July 31, 2022.
Kolkata will host the opening match on August 16, 2022, as well as the grand final on September 18, 2022.
There will be a total of 47 matches in the 131st Durand Cup edition, where both Guwahati and Imphal will host 10 Group C and Group D matches each, while all seven knockout matches will be held at three venues in West Bengal.
The opening group matches are scheduled to start on August 16 at Kolkata’s Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK), August 17 at Guwahati’s Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium and August 18 at Imphal’s Khuman Lampak Stadium.
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