As the city gears up to host its second successive Indian Oil Durand Cup, an evening of culture, music and thrill is all set to enthral fans at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium ahead of the opening game, a North-East derby, between Shillong Lajong FC and local side NorthEast United FC (NEUFC), on August 04, 2023.
Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, has consented to grace the occasion as Chief Guest. Among other dignitaries present will be Nandita Gorlosa, Minister for Sports and Youth Welfare, Government of Assam and Lt. Gen. Rana Pratap Kalita, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM , General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command & Air Marshal SP Dharkar, PVSM, AVSM AOC-in-C, Eastern Air Command.
The Local Organising Committee has also decided to keep the event as free for the opening game.
4.20pm-5.45pm- Cultural programme and Opening Ceremony
The Opening Ceremony
As part of the opening ceremony, an elaborate cultural and musical programme along with a display of the Armed Force’s sporting and defence capabilities, has been meticulously planned. A choreographed extravaganza by recent Guinness record holder Shri. Ranjit Gogoi and a musical performance by the popular singer and dancer Smt. Priyanka Bharali is certain to sooth the spirits. A fusion of Bhangra and the indigenous sport of Kalariyapatu by the Punjab and Madras regiments and an eye-popping Fly Past by Indian Army Aviation Cheetah Helicopters alongwith IAF MI 17 Helicopters and Sukhoi SU-30 Fighter Jets is also on the roster.
The kick-off is preceded by the lighting of the IOCL flame and the Hon. Chief Minister’s introduction with the two team line-ups along with other dignitaries.
The cultural evening continues during the half-time break when the Gurkha and the Sikh regiments endear themselves to the crowd with performances of the Khukri dance and that of yet another indigenous sport, from Punjab, the Gatka.
The North-East derby
Shillong Lajong, visiting over from neighbouring Meghalaya, one of the most popular clubs of the region, then take on Indian Super League (ISL) side North-East United FC who are based out of Guwahati, in what is sure to be an exciting North-East derby first-up. It will be the first match-up in Group D, which also has FC Goa and Kashmir’s Downtown Heroes. This will be the second of 43-games which will culminate in the final at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) in Kolkata on September 03, 2023. This year’s edition has 24 teams divided into six groups and includes all 12 ISL teams as well as two foreign teams, a first for the Durand in 27 years.
Three of the groups A, B and C are to be played across four venues of Kolkata, while a majority of the Group D and E matches will be hosted by Guwahati’s Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium. Kokrajhar, the newest Durand Cup host city, will be hosting all matches of Group F along with a Group D and E game each. Guwahati will also host one quarter-final game. The rest of the knockouts will be held in Kolkata.
Bengaluru FC are the defending champions, having defeated Mumbai City FC 2-1 in the final of the 131st Edition last year at the VYBK.
Furthermore, one can watch the LIVE coverage of the 132nd Durand Cup 2023 on the Sony Sports Ten 2 channels as well as livestream on Sony LIV.
The scheduled kick-off is at 5.45 pm Indian Standard Time (IST).