The Durand Cup 2021 will take place from September 5, 2021, until October 3, 2021. Despite the continuous COVID-19 outbreak, the 130th version of the competition will be held in Kolkata under tight safety precautions. Clubs from the Indian Super League, the I-League, the Second Division League, and the Indian Armed Forces are among the participants.
The battle is expected to be fierce, and it may serve as a preview of what’s to come. The domestic league season starts in two months, and the teams have been working hard to prepare. The Durand Cup will be used by some of the competing clubs to assess their squad depth. ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal, interestingly, have both opted out of the event.
There isn’t much room for error, and the competition is expected to be fierce. The spectators are looking forward to seeing teams from all levels compete for the ultimate prize. Here are the top five teams with the best chances of winning the Durand Cup, based on their preparations.
Bengaluru FC may have had a disappointing ISL season, finishing outside of the playoffs for the first time. However, in trying to better their fortunes, the club has undergone modifications. Marco Pezzaiuoli has been named manager, and numerous new players have joined the team. The Blues rounded up their AFC Cup 2021 campaign with a 6-2 win over Maziya S&RC in their last group round match.
With all foreigners in the BFC squad gone home for the tournament, the manager is set to put his kids to the test. Bengaluru FC will be among the championship favorites even among domestic individuals, with certain first-team members expected to be included. Kerala Blasters, Indian Navy, and Delhi FC are all in the same intriguing Group C as the former ISL champions.
The defending Durand Cup champions will face a stiff struggle to retain their title. I-League clubs frequently have the resources to surprise ISL opponents and cause an upset. The Malabarians are also the defending I-League winners, and they are heavy favorites to win the Durand Cup 2021.
Hyderabad FC, Assam Rifles, and Army Red are all in Group D. They should place in the top two and advance to the knockout stages. In the title-winning 2019 edition, the Malabarians won all of their games and will try to continue where they left off.
Mohammedan SC is another team that appears to be in good shape heading into the tournament. The I-League outfit will be the underdogs and might trigger significant upsets. The Kolkata-based club is expected to deploy a full-strength squad, as is customary for I-League teams.
Rakesh Pradhan, Milan Singh, Wayne Vaz, Stefan Ilic, and others have joined their squad. Furthermore, coach Andrey Chernyshov may use the competition to expose the young players to more difficult opponents. Bengaluru United, the CRPF, and the Indian Air Force are all in Group A. The clubs in this group are evenly matched, but the Black Panthers should proceed to the playoffs based on their strengths. Then it’s a question of who’s having a better day.
Kerala Blasters FC
In the upcoming Durand Cup, Kerala Blasters FC is heavy favorites to win it all. After a dismal season last year, the Yellow Army has made significant changes to their lineup. Ivan Vukomanovic leads the team, which includes newcomers EnesSipovic, Adrian Luna, HarmanjotKhabra, and others.
The ISL club has announced the formation of a full-fledged first team that will compete in the Durand Cup. It will also be fascinating to watch if young players such as Ayush Adhikari, Givson Singh, and Jeakson Singh get any playing time. The gaffer wants to make a good first impression with KBFC, and winning the trophy is high on his priority list.
FC Goa is unquestionably one of the favorites to win the Durand Cup in 2021. The Gaurs last played in the AFC Champions League, where they performed admirably. After facing Persepolis, Al Wahda, and Al Rayyan in the ISL, the team came away with three points. Juan Ferrando will be hoping that the new members of his squad have enough game time to establish themselves in the starting XI, and there is no better competition to do so than the Durand Cup.
The Gaurs boast some of the best young talents in the country, and players like Saviour Gama, Princeton Rebello, and Devendra Murgaonkar would get plenty of action in the Durand Cup. Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, Ivan Gonzalez, Edu Bedia, Glan Martins, Brandon Fernandes, Alberto Noguera, and Jorge Ortiz are among the important players in coach Juan Ferrando’s roster. FC Goa is likely to be one of the best teams in the Durand Cup 2021.