The Durand Cup kicks off in Goa on 29th October with 12 teams in the quarterfinal stage dreaming of lifting the title. This will be the first time the Durand Cup would be hosted by Goa. In recent times Durand Cup has lost its glitz and glamour and some of the reputed clubs had deserted the tournament. This season would be a rare occasion that some of the bigger clubs around the country have confirmed their participation. With the nation focusing on the Indian Super League, which has caught the imagination of the fans, Durand Cup presents the I-League clubs and other second division teams to grab some attention. The 2014 edition features I-League champions Bengaluru FC, Churchill Brothers and Salgaocar in addition to Sporting Clube de Goa and Pune FC.
Group A would consist of I-League team Salgaocar Football club, Goan Professional League team TUFF Laxmi Prasad Sports Club and Indian Navy. The Salgaocar look favourite to advance from the group, but recent exploits of TUFF boys have made the group interesting.
I-League team Salgaocar Football Club will start the group A as the favourites. The team coached by Derrick Periera have a decent start to the season and are at the top of the Goa Pro league. The team will look to add Durand Cup 2014 to their trophy cabinet. The club earlier won the tournament back in 1999 and 2003.
The Greens have strengthened their side from last season and looked much be stronger. The addition of India International players like Gurjinder Singh have strengthened the defence. They have retained a number of Indian players and that would certainly help them. The Scottish goal poacher Darryl Duffy will be in his second season with the club. He would be vital for the club to provide the goals up front. He will be supported by Ivory Coast attacking midfielder Douhou Pierre, who have recently joined the club from Pune FC. The signing of the 2012 African Cup of Nation winner Francis Kasonde has solidified the defence. The Zambian International could be very useful in set piece situations with his powerful headers.
The team will have major threat from the state rivals TUFF Laxmi Prasad sports club. In the previous encounter between two teams, Salgaocar FC has solitary win over the TUFF boys in the Goa Pro league.
Key Players: Darryl Duffy, Douhou Pierre, Karanjeet Singh.
TUFF Laxmi Prasad SC
A few years back a club was hovering around 3rd tier of Goan football. The club was considered to be satisfied with the 2nd division Goan league, but now when you look at the club after just 3 to 4 years they are most feared club in the Goa football system. The club needs no guess work, it is TUFF Laxmi Prasad Sports Club.
The TUFF boys as they are popularly known have revolutionized the Goan football scene in less than 4 years. After getting a promotion to the Goa pro league without losing a single match in 2nd division and 1st division have impressed all in the Goa Pro league. The Goan football scene was dominated by big four Churchill Brothers, Dempo Sports Club, Salgoacar Sports club and Sporting Clube de Goa but the emergence of TUFF have changed it. The boys from Mapusa known for their fearless and attacking brand of football.
The team has experienced players who have plied their trade in I-league and some of the promising young players who are hungry to prove their worth. Skipper Remus Gomes and Nigerian stopper back Chika Wali have complimented each other very well so far. The Nigerian will be up against his former club Salgaocar FC in Group A. The midfielder is full of I-league experience with the likes of Freimon Peixoto and Mackroy Peirxoto pulling the strings from the middle. The team will heavily depend on the Goal machine Alvito Miranda. He will have able support from ND Opara who earlier played for some of the reputed clubs in I-League.
The TUFF boys have emerged as a new force in Goan football and placed in 2nd position in the Goa Pro league. This will be their first national level tournament and they will be eager to put up a good show.
Key Players: Chika Wali, Freimon Peixoto, ND Opara
The Indian Navy is the third team in the Group A, the team would look to play well and not just form number in the group. Nothing much will be expected from the Indian Navy but they will look to put up a decent show and frustrate the fancied rivals in the group.
With one just to qualify for semis from the Group, Salgaocar FC looks to be the favourite to qualify. TUFF Laxmi Prasad has fire power to upset the odds and they will be one of the underdogs not just to qualify through the Group stage but also in the tournament.