Shillong, Jul 18: Shillong Lajong FC have been drawn in Group D of the Durand Cup 2023 and will play their opening match against NorthEast United FC on 4th August at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati.

The other two teams in the group are FC Goa and Downtown Heroes FC of Kashmir.

Although Shillong was named as one of the co-host cities, it has been dropped as none of its grounds are suitable. Although the Meghalaya government has been pushing for it, the JN Stadium’s new natural turf pitch has barely been laid and spectator seating and dressing rooms are not ready. Instead, all the matches will be held in Guwahati, Kokrajhar and Kolkata.

Organised by the Indian Army on behalf of the three services, the 132nd edition of the Durand Cup is highly anticipated.

This year’s tournament will witness the participation of 24 teams, including all 12 Indian Super League sides plus foreign teams from neighboring countries Bangladesh and Nepal, which marks the return of foreign participation after a hiatus of 27 years.

Lajong, fresh from gaining promotion to the I-League 2023-24, will be making their debut in this competition.

Bengaluru FC are the defending champions, having defeated Mumbai City FC in the 2022 final. The teams have been drawn into six groups of four each. Six group winners and the two best second placed sides will make the knockout stage.

Guwahati and Kokrajhar will get to host a quarterfinal fixture each, with all the remaining knockouts, including the 3rd September final, to be played in Kolkata.

(TSR representative photo)

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