The Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati is all set to witness a highly-anticipated contest as NorthEast United FC take on the Indian Army FT in the first quarter-final of the 2023 Durand Cup. Both sides remain unbeaten in the competition so far, winning two and splitting points in their respective groups.
The Highlanders are taking part in this historic competition for the second time. Drawn in Group D, their season began with a 4-0 win over Shillong Lajong in which Parthib Gogoi scored his first senior hat-trick. Buoyed by that result, Juan Pedro Benali’s side faced fellow Hero Indian Super League side FC Goa and held the lead twice, ultimately settling for a draw. And to conclude the group stage, NEUFC had to come from behind to register a 3-1 win and progress into the last eight as one of the top two best second-placed teams.
The Indian Army FT too clinched seven points in the group stage, beating Bodoland FC, Odisha FC, and holding Rajasthan United to a draw in Group F. Such has been their performance that IAFT have the joint-best defence in the competition alongside Mumbai City FC and Mohun Bagan Super Giant.
Talking about the quarter-final clash, Head Coach Juan Pedro Benali said, "The Indian Army FT is a very good team. They topped the table and were unbeaten. They're a physically strong side, can run relentlessly, and have a rock-solid defence, which conceded only once. We need to be at our absolute best to reach the semi-finals."
The winner of this clash will face the winner of quarter-final 2, which is between East Bengal and Gokulam Kerala FC, in the semi-final on August 29th.