Mohun Bagan’s participation in the 115th Pepsi Durand Cup (the meet just got this sponsor) remains uncertain. The sixteen times Durand champions are yet to resolve their imbroglio with the Indian Football Association (IFA) and the state body wants to cut a deal before they permit the 16-time champions to go to Delhi.
IFA treasurer Subrata Dutta said Mohun Bagan should agree to play in the IFA Shield (Bagan have shown disinterest). The Durand permission will follow. “Help us to help you,” said Dutta. Bagan are yet to get back to the IFA on this.
The dates of the two meets do not clash.
Meanwhile, local teams had mixed fortunes on the opening day of the qualifiers Thursday. Delhi League runners-up Indian Nationals lost 0-1 to Madras Engineering Group (MEG) Bangalore, while City Club ousted Indian Air Force by a solitary goal.
City Club meet MEG Saturday. The winners qualify for the second stage of the tournament commencing December 31.
MEG won through a 78th-minute goal from midfielder Durai Raj. City Club got their winner in the 50th minute off the boots of Bijendra Kumar.
If Bagan fail to confirm their entry soon, Air India, Mumbai, are being lined up a last-minute replacements. Punjab State Electricty Board (PSEB) and seven-time champions Border Security Force (BSF) have also expressed their willingness to fill the breach.