Three new head coaches will take charge of their first competitive matches at their respective clubs as four Hero Indian Super League (ISL) sides begin their Durand Cup 2022 campaign on Wednesday.

Simon Grayson’s Bengaluru FC lock horns with League Winners’ Shield champions Jamshedpur FC who are now under Aidy Boothroyd but will be fielding their reserve team led by Indranil Chakraborty in this competition before Josep Gombau’s Odisha FC face Marco Balbul’s NorthEast United FC.

Bengaluru FC vs Jamshedpur FC: 2:30 PM IST

The Blues are making their third appearance at the Durand Cup, having previously bowed out of the tournament at the quarterfinal (2014) and semifinal (2021) stages.

“We’re really excited to take part in a competition that has a rich history and tradition associated with it. This is a part of our pre-season preparation, ahead of the Indian Super League, but we want to give a good account of ourselves. Playing the Durand Cup means our season will take place over a longer period this year, and we will have to make sure that we strike the right balance to maintain the fitness of all our players through the campaign,” said Grayson, ahead of the encounter.

Bengaluru’s squad for the Durand Cup includes new signings Prabir Das, Roy Krishna, Sandesh Jhingan, Javi Hernandez, Aleksandar Jovanovic, Hira Mondal, Amrit Gope and Faisal Ali, who are also part of the group of players that arrived in Kolkata on Sunday.

“We have some exciting new players and a group of really good youngsters who have come through the Academy as well. We want them to play together for as many minutes as possible so that they can gel well and get to understand each other in a competitive environment,” added Grayson.

Jamshedpur FC, led by Youth Team coach Carlos Santamarina, are set to field a team comprising youngsters, including India U20 goalkeeper Mohit Singh Dhami, who most recently won the U20 SAFF Championship, in Bhubaneswar.

“We’re aware that Jamshedpur FC and some other teams have registered a development squad for this tournament. We did the same last year and our youngsters did exceptionally well. We want to approach this tournament with our first team as it gives us an opportunity to be ready for what is going to be a tough season,” Grayson added.

Kick-off between the Blues and Jamshedpur FC is scheduled for 2.30 pm and will be telecast on the Sports18 network, with live streaming available on VOOT Select and Jio TV.

NorthEast United FC vs Odisha FC: 5:30 PM IST

NorthEast United FC and Odisha FC are making their debuts in the Durand Cup and will face each other in their opening match in Group D at Guwahati’s Indira Gandhi Athletic stadium.

Odisha FC who saw the return of Josep Gombau at the helm have strengthened this summer with acquisitions like Osama Malik, Diego Mauricio, Saul Crespo, Victor Rodriguez, Pedro Martin, Carlos Delgado, Narender Gahlot, Michael Soosairaj and Raynier Fernandes.

The Juggernauts who enjoyed their best spell under the Spaniard have a look of a team that can challenge for not just the top four spots but also for the ultimate crown.

The optimism surrounding Odisha FC will be put to an early test against NorthEast United FC who have always been strong in front of home fans. New head coach Balbul has plenty of experience under his belt and it could make a big difference for Highlanders who have retained a number of their key Indian players from last season.

The Highlanders’ squad is expected to be a mix of first-team players and youth players in the Durand Cup so they are expected to bring unpredictability as well as energy to the field.

Kick-off between the Odisha FC and NorthEast United FC is scheduled for 5.30 pm IST and will be telecast on the Sports18 network, with live streaming available on VOOT Select and Jio TV.