North-East derby to begin 132nd Indian Oil Durand Cup proceedings in Guwahati

NorthEast United FC will go in as favourites against Shillong Lajong on big game experience

Guwahati, August 03, 2023: NorthEast United FC (NEUFC), the Guwahati based Indian Super League (ISL) side, go into their first 132nd IndianOil Durand Cup game against Shillong Lajong at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium on Friday, as favourites purely on big game experience. The Group D game will kick-off the Guwahati leg of Asia’s oldest football tournament and will be preceded by an elaborately planned opening ceremony. Shillong Lajong, after pulling out their senior team from competitive national football a few years back, will be making a comeback to this level, while NEUFC are regulars on the national circuit for some time now.

You can watch the LIVE coverage of the 132nd Durand Cup 2023 on the Sony Sports Ten 2 channels as well as livestream on SonyLIV. The scheduled kick-off is at 6.00pm Indian Standard Time (IST).

Any game involving the passionate Shillong Lajong however is sure to be competitive and their passionate and longstanding fans are certain to make the trip across the hills to their neighbouring state capital and cheer for their team. They have also managed to rope in some talented young club veterans into their 30-man squad, including the likes of Phrangki Buam, Kenstar Kharsong and Kynsailang Khongsit .

Coached by Spaniard Juan Pedro Benali for this season, the Highlanders on the other hand will be keen to test out some new signings they have made along with some youngsters. Redeem Talang for example is back in their fold and they also have brought under their wings a few utility players like Asheer Akhtar and Thoi Singh recently, who the Spanish gaffer would be keen to test out.

Coach Benali exuded confidence ahead of the game saying, “I am confident in the group of players we have chosen. Our team has a blend of experienced players and promising young talents who have shown great potential in training. The Durand Cup is a prestigious tournament and we are eager to compete at our best level. We want to play attractive football. The players have been working hard on the training ground and I believe we are well-prepared for the challenges ahead. We are all excited to represent North East United FC and aim to make our fans proud with our performances on the field.”

It would be important to begin with a win for all teams in general given they are four teams in a group and there is a premium on winning the group. While FC Goa will be formidable in Group D, both Shillong and NEUFC will fancy their chances against Kashmir’s Downtown Heroes, therefore the Friday game assumes even more importance for both of them.

A cracker of a North-East derby is surely in the offing.

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