With the Durand Cup finally back after a three-year hiatus, Mohun Bagan are set to face Mohammedan Sporting in the tournament opener in Kolkata's Salt Lake Stadium on August 2. Indian football legend and current AIFF Technical Committee's Honourable Chairman has taken to the competition's official Twitter, urging fans to come for Asia's oldest football competition. The competition also sees it change its venue from Delhi to West Bengal. The former Nepal head coach revealed that Md. Sporting had a huge fan following in Delhi during his playing career, with thousands of fans from Old Delhi.
I-League second division team Mohammedan Sporting will be eyeing for the trophy after having gone down the ranks in the past few years. They have won the trophy twice; 1940, 2013.
"One time Mohammedan Sporting was also very popular in Delhi. Thousands of supporters from Jama Masjid used to come to watch their matches," said the former India, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan player.
Indian football legend and the Honourable Chairman of the AIFF Technical Committee Mr Shyam Thapa is ecstatic about the Durand Cup. Opens up about his fond memories about the esteemed tournament...#DurandCup #IndianFootball pic.twitter.com/9x6zsNRnX7— durandcup (@thedurandcup) August 2, 2019
Thapa also won the tournament in 1969 with Gorkha Brigade. His finest moment came in the final when he scored the match-winner against Border Security Force in a 1-0 win.
"This competition has history. In Delhi, I first started playing big football tournaments and it was Durand Cup," said Thapa.
"Gorkha Brigade became champion in 1969. Of course, there were great players when it won in 1966 too. Like, Ranjit Thapa, Bhupender Singh Rawat," he said.
"I played the Durand Cup in 1969 and I scored a goal in the final," said the former player about his match-winner in the 1969 final. He further added, "That pleasure I still feel, but today I am very happy that Durand Cup has come here to Kolkata."
Crediting the organisers for deciding to host in West Bengal, Thapa said, "Durand Cup will be a success in Kolkata as it is the Mecca of football."
"All fans please come and watch the Durand Cup. Please make it a popular tournament once again," said the legend.
It is also worth noting that Thapa is one of the four players to have won the Durand Cup with three different teams (Gorkha Brigade, Mohun Bagan & East Bengal). The others being Peter Thangaraj, IM Vijayan and Jo Paul Ancheri.