Durand Cup 2022, Group D preview: Kerala Blasters FC, NorthEast United FC and Odisha FC battle it out in Guwahati

NorthEast United FC and Odisha FC are all set to make their debuts in the Durand Cup 2022 as the tournament’s 131st edition plays out in Kolkata, Imphal, and Guwahati.

The Highlanders and the Juggernauts will be looking to bounce back after disappointing campaigns in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) last season and win their first silverware.

NorthEast United FC will enjoy home advantage and it will give new head coach Marco Balbul a chance to get familiar with the fans straightaway. As for Odisha FC, there will be a lot of expectations after the club invested heavily in the transfer market since the arrival of Josep Gombau.

Kerala Blasters FC who are going to send their reserve team to the competition will attract eyeballs as is the case with them wherever they play in or outside India. The young Blasters team will be fresh from their Next Gen Cup campaign in the UK and will be out to put all their experience to practice.

Army Green who won the Durand Cup in 2016 and Sudeva Delhi complete Group D.

Group D

Sr No

Teams

1

Army Green

2

Kerala Blasters FC

3

NorthEast United FC

4

Odisha FC

5

Sudeva Delhi

Group D fixtures

Date

Time

Match

Venue

August 17, 2022

5:30 PM IST

Odisha FC vs NorthEast United FC

Guwahati

August 19, 2022

6 PM IST

Sudeva Delhi vs Kerala Blasters FC

Guwahati

August 21, 2022

3 PM IST

NorthEast United FC vs Army Green

Guwahati

August 23, 2022

3 PM IST

Odisha FC vs Kerala Blasters FC

Guwahati

August 25, 2022

3 PM IST

Army Green vs Sudeva Delhi

Guwahati

August 27, 2022

6 PM IST

NorthEast United FC vs Kerala Blasters FC

Guwahati

August 29, 2022

6 PM IST

Odisha FC vs Sudeva Delhi

Guwahati

August 31, 2022

3 PM IST

Kerala Blasters FC vs Army Green

Guwahati

September 2, 2022

6 PM IST

NorthEast United FC vs Sudeva Delhi

Guwahati

September 4, 2022

6 PM IST

Army Green vs Odisha FC

Guwahati

Talking Points

Odisha FC: Version Gombau 2.0

The Spaniard Gombau had a great spell with Odisha FC two seasons ago. The Juggernauts didn’t reach the semi-finals under him but played some eye-catching football and were at their competitive best. Gombau has now returned at the helm at Odisha FC with an unfinished business which is to take Odisha FC to the semi-finals of the Hero ISL and maybe even beyond.

With additions like Diego Mauricio, Osama Malik, Saul Crespo, Pedro Martin, Narender Gehlot, Raynier Fernandes and Victor Rodriguez, the Juggernauts look like a very formidable outfit. Gombau has suggested that they would want to win every trophy available to them and would be a force to be reckoned with in group D.

Kerala Blasters FC: Young but wise

The Kerala Blasters FC’s youth team impressed not just in the Next Gen Cup but also in the Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) where they finished as runners-up. Tomasz Tchorz’s side have proven that they can compete with the best teams in and outside India and they are capable of having a real crack at the Durand Cup. First-team head coach Ivan Vukomanovic who has always kept an eye on the youth team will be hoping for some young players to emerge which he can absorb into the senior team.

NorthEast United FC: Home sweet home

The Highlanders have one of the most passionate fanbases in the Hero ISL and have traditionally enjoyed a good record in Guwahati. An early return to playing in front of the fans is sure to boost their preparations for the upcoming Hero ISL season and help Balbul to develop a connection with the fans before the season begins.

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