Sunil Chhetri and Bengaluru FC eye Durand milestone | Football News

KOLKATA: Indian talisman Sunil Chhetri will be desperate to add the coveted Durand Cup title to his illustrious career when he directed Bangalore F.C. against Mumbai City FC in the top-flight clash here on Sunday.
For Chhetri, 38, who is in the twilight of his career, the Durand Cup is missing from his trophy cabinet. The same goes for Bengaluru FC, which has won every major Indian competition since its inception in 2013, but not the Durand Cup.
BFC were the 2018-19 ISL champions, and also have six other domestic titles to their name, and will be contesting their seventh.
“It’s very, very special. It’s one of the oldest tournaments which in itself is very important. As a club, we didn’t win it,” Chhetri said of Bengaluru FC who won the I-League twice, the Indian Super League once and the Federation Cup/Super Cup three times.
“Even more for me… Individually too, I didn’t win the Durand Cup at all. I had the chance to win a lot of tournaments, almost all the tournaments you can in India and the Cup is missing. Durand,” Chhetri said while preparing for the tournament.
“So for me it’s an extra motivation. As a club we will do our best. Last year our young boys gave a good image of themselves, we want to improve that,” he said. he said of the spectacle at their last edition where a young Blues side were knocked out in sudden death by eventual champions FC Goa.
A resolute and courageous performance, aided by an own goal from Hyderabad FC’s Odei Onaindia, took Bengaluru FC to their first-ever Durand Cup final here on Thursday.
MCFC, meanwhile, ousted local heavyweights Mohammedan Sporting in the other semi-final, to set up a clash between two former ISL champions.
Players like Javier Hernandez, Roy Krishna and Chhetri up front will have their task cut, with Des Buckingham’s MCFC at their best so far, especially after the inclusion of Senegalese defender Mourtada Fall.
They also have tournament top scorer Lallianzuala Chhangte (seven goals) and someone of the quality of Greg Stewart who runs the midfield with authority.
“Listen, I think we have to play as a team tomorrow,” said BFC England coach Simon Grayson on the eve of the final.
“They play a lot of passes. We have to be good tomorrow to stop the opposition. We have to be careful and make sure we play better.
“We have no injuries. Our target will be to win the trophy without any injuries. We are in the final and we will make sure to win the trophy because we have the mentality to win,” he added.
Islanders coach Buckingham is well aware of Roy Krishna’s strength from his days at Wellington Phoenix in the A-League.
“It’s not just about the individual skills of Bengaluru, but also the attacking prowess they possess when the players team up.
“We will have our game plan and I focus on what we do with and without the ball. We will focus on our approach to how we attack and defend,” the MCFC coach said.
West Bengal Governor La Ganesan, Army Chief General Manoj Pande and Sports Minister Aroop Biswas among other dignitaries will be present for the final.
The final day also has an elaborate closing ceremony with patriotic songs to be played by groups.
There will also be Air Warrior Exercises, Kalaripayattu Dance Performances, Northeast Fusions as well as Bhangra.
Kick-off: 6 p.m. IST.

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