New Delhi: The 115th edition of the Durand Cup started in Delhi on Thursday. It's considered the second oldest football tournament in the world, second only to the Football Association Cup in England, but lately doesn't seem to be getting pride of place in the Indian football calendar. Mumbai's Mahindra United won the 114th edition of the event and they along with Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are likely to be the top clubs in attendance this time. Lt Col Bhupender Singh, Secretary, Durand Cup, said, "The Durand has not lost the significance as it had earlier. Moreover, it is being conducted by the defence forces, so all the teams await the Cup every year." But even though 12 of India's leading teams will be participating in this year's edition, there are question marks over the timing of the tournament, which comes between the two stages of the National Football League. Another problem is that national team coach Stephen Constantine will be holding a camp in the early weeks of January, which will mean that most of the country's top players including Baichung Bhutia will be missing. Novy Kapadia, football journalist, said, "Not only the Durand Cup but other historic tournaments like the Rovers Cup, IFA Shield, DCM - all have to play second fiddle to the National Football League. The All India Football Federation considers that the premier tournament and they are not giving enough time and importance to historic tournaments like the Durand - the oldest in India since 1888." All these problems are a poor reflection on the organisational capabilities of the All Indian Football Federation. The poorly planned calendar also meant that the National Games in Hyderabad had to be held without the top players since they were not allowed to miss the NFL.
Topics : Football