Goa to host Durand Cup for first time

Panaji: The 127th edition of Durand Cup will be played in Goa in October-November, the first time the prestigious football tournament is being organised outside Delhi, where it was shifted over seven decades ago.

A dozen teams will clash in the main phase of the Rs 50-lakh prize money competition, organised by the Army, which will be played from October 28 to November 9 at different venues in the coastal state.

Organisers said Goa, a football-crazy state, has been chosen as a host to widen the tournament`s reach and appeal.

Addressing a press conference here today, Lt Gen P R Shankar, General Officer Commanding, Maharashtra, Gujarat & Goa Area, said for the first time in its history, the Cup, one of the oldest soccer tournaments in the world, will be played outside Delhi.

"The reason (for shifting the venue) is that the tournament is not getting the recognition it deserves. Goa is one of the popular states for football and so we decided to shift the tournament to Goa this year," stated Shankar.

"We want to take it to other places where football is popular. Next it may be held in Kerala, looking at the response we get in Goa. Our aim is to promote football at grassroots level."

With a decent prize money, the tournament is certain to attract top I-League teams of the country and it is being promoted as a sports-cum-military extravaganza and carnival.

Events like Army symphony band, malkhambh, parachute drops, kalairepayattu, Army weapon and equipment display, among others, would be interspersed with the Cup this time.

All events will be free of cost for general public.

The tournament will be conducted in two phases. In the qualifier phase, which will be knock-out stage, 12 to 16 teams would be grouped into two pools.

The top two teams from the qualifier phase would play in the main tournament along with nine I-League outfits and one squad representing the Army.

To give local teams an opportunity to take part in the tournament, some 1st division teams from Goa would be invited to participate in the qualifier round.

The winner will get a cash prize of Rs 25 lakh and Rajendra Prasad Trophy, while the runner-up will become richer by Rs 10 lakh. The losing semi-finalists will get Rs 5 lakh each. The tournament was started in 1888 in Shimla and shifted to Delhi in 1940.

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