Group C will have two Indian Super League sides clashing at the 2021 Durand Cup. Kerala Blasters and Bengaluru FC will definitely grab all the headlines in the group, but Delhi FC will look to upset the apple cart.
With two spots in the quarterfinals up for grabs, the ISL clubs would do well not to treat the Durand Cup as a pre-season exercise.
Who are the teams in Group C?
Kerala Blasters have hired a new coaching staff, again. Ahead of the Durand Cup they have named their full first-team squad, clearly indicating their title ambitions. New foreign signings Enes Sipovic, Adrian Luna and Jorge Pereyra Diaz complement a relatively young Indian contingent for the Blasters.
Bengaluru FC are yet to name their squad for the Durand Cup 2021 but will be competitive nevertheless. Their thriving youth system has supplied many players to the first team over the years. If given the opportunity, these youngsters would be clawing at the chance to bring some silverware home.
Delhi FC, under the ownership of Minerva maverick Ranjit Bajaj, are fresh from competing in the I-League Second Division qualifiers. In that squad, they have added Trinidadian forward Willis Plaza who knows his way to goal in this country. They will, however, have one eye on the I-League II season, which starts immediately after the 2021 Durand Cup.
The Indian Navy football team is the fourth team in Group C. They won the Kerala Premier League title in the 2018-19 season. In the previous edition of the Durand Cup, they failed to make it past the group stage, finishing at the bottom.
Durand Cup 2021 Group C Schedule
08.09.2021: Delhi FC vs Indian Navy - 3.00 pm, Mohun Bagan Ground
11.09.2021: Kerala Blasters vs Indian Navy - 3.00 pm, Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan
15.09.2021: Bengaluru FC vs Kerala Blasters - 3.00 pm, Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan
18.09.2021: Delhi FC vs Bengaluru FC - 3.00 pm, Mohun Bagan Ground
21.09.2021: Bengaluru FC vs Indian Navy - 3.00 pm, Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan
21.09.2021: Delhi FC vs Kerala Blasters - 3.00 pm, Mohun Bagan Ground
Kerala Blasters are expected to top Group C considering the strength and experience of their squad. The fact that they are yet to win a trophy will definitely play on their minds and this is a good chance to change that.
Regardless of the personnel that end up turning out for Bengaluru FC in the 2021 Durand Cup, they are a good bet to go through. Their second game against Delhi FC, having already played the Kerala Blasters by that point, will be crucial.
Delhi FC could spring a surprise or two and qualify from Group C. A win from their opening game against the Indian Navy would be the perfect springboard.
The order of the teams at the end of the group stage is likely to be:
1. Kerala Blasters
2. Bengaluru FC
3. Delhi FC
4. Indian Navy