New Delhi, Dec. 28: The 115th Pepsi Durand Cup football tournament continues to be jinxed. Uncertainty over Mohun Bagan’s participation continues and on Saturday, the tournament secretary informed that Mahindra United have also pulled out.
The defending champions have cited “unavoidable reasons”. This puts organisers in a spot because now they might be forced to seek replacements not just for Mahindra, but also for Mohun Bagan.
It is learnt that since five players from Mahindra have been called to the national camp and some others are injured, the Mumbai outfit has decided it would be prudent to withdraw.
Meanwhile, Madras Engineering Group (MEG), Bangalore, became the first team to qualify for the second stage of the tournament. In a well-contested second round match, they ousted City Club, Delhi, 4-2 in tie-breaker. The match ended goalless in regulation and extra time.
A Staff Reporter in Calcutta adds: The IFA maintains that Mohun Bagan will not be cleared for Durand Cup until they confirm for the IFA Shield beginning January 8. Mohun Bagan say they can be certain about playing IFA Shield only after playing in Durand.
“We also have injury problems and some players will join the national camp. We can ascertain our position only after playing in Durand. We want to play in Delhi, but will not be able to confirm for IFA Shield before that,” said a club official.
“By saying we won’t be cleared for Durand until we do so for IFA Shield, the IFA is trying to blackmail us,” complained the official. As things stand now, Mohun Bagan look uncertain for both Durand and IFA Shield.
The Durand Cup tournament secretary said Mohun Bagan will have to confirm their entry by Sunday, countersigned by the IFA, and otherwise they will not be considered for the tournament.