'Want to go as far as FCBU can in Durand Cup'

Want to go as far as we can in Durand Cup: FC Bengaluru United coach Hood

Both Manzi and Majcen are definite to start as long as they are available

Richard Hood. Credit: DH Pool

This is a big season for FC Bengaluru United. The Bengaluru side is focused on representing the city in the I-League again and the journey starts with the Durand Cup.

Already eight weeks into their pre-season, the challenge of the cup competition comes at the right time for coach Richard Hood and his boys.

"Durand has brought in a new energy. We have finished two months of pre-season for I-league Qualifiers and this has come at the right time to see where we stand and put our preparation into test," said the coach to DH.

"We want to fight for everything. When we announced to the squad about the Durand Cup, you could see that people were locked in. We want to go as far as we can. That will feed into the Qualifiers as well."

The Bengaluru side will make its debut in the 130th edition of the tournament and begin campaign against CRPF on September 6. The other teams in Group A are Indian Air Force and Mohammedan SC.

This season will be a big test for the team who have high ambitions. Last time, they had fallen short in the I-League Qualifiers and promotion to the I-League remains a priority. Since last year's campaign, the team won the BDFA Super Division, showing that they were headed in the right direction.

And most importantly, they have addressed their major weakness from last season by signing strikers Pedro Manzi from Spain and Slovenian Luka Majcen. They have also strengthened the squad by adding experienced Subash Singh and Sanju Pradhan while Denil Rebello and Bedashwor Singh have also been roped in.

"There has been a big squad churn. New faces are in. We identified areas to address at the BDFA league," said Hood. "In terms of squad composition, we tried our best to get pairings. An expert in each position and a versatile player to back him up. We learned our lesson from last season as well, a couple of our players tested positive and their room-mates had to be quarantined as well. Most of our squad is vaccinated but the Covid-19 situation is not in our control. We have to deal with it as it comes up."

Both Manzi and Majcen are definite to start as long as they are available. 

"We had seen what happens when a lone foreigner up front, so having two we think we can put more pressure. Both have come off strong seasons and both have come off high numbers. Two strong personalities as well. They are giving us a lot of confidence," Hood said.

The journey starts with the third oldest football tournament in the world - the Durand Cup. 

10 clubs in Qualifiers

The All India Football Federation, on Monday, confirmed the names of the 10 teams set to participate in the I-League Qualifiers in Bengaluru in October.

There will be seven teams making their debut, including Hyderya Sports FC (J&K), Corbett FC (Uttarakhand), Delhi FC (Delhi), Madan Maharaj FC (Madhya Pradesh), Rajasthan United FC (Rajasthan), Kerala United FC (Kerala) and Ryntih SC (Meghalaya).

ARA FC (Gujarat), Kenkre FC (Maharashtra) and FC Bengaluru United (Karnataka) complete the lineup.

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