Incidentally, the tournament is the fourth oldest club cup competition in the world (began in 1893) after the English and Scottish FA Cup's and the Durand Cup.
This is the third time (previously 2009-10 and 2010-2011) Pune FC will participate in this annually held calendar tournament and begin their campaign against Pailan Arrows on March 4 at East Bengal ground and then I-League Second Division side Ar-Hima Club on March 6 at Howrah Stadium.
The tournament features 12 teams – seven elite I-League teams – divided into four groups of three teams who in turn will engage in a round-robin league wherein the respective group toppers qualify for the semifinals.
While Pune FC find themselves in a relatively tough group, the other Group-B comprises of defending champions Churchill Brothers, Goa last edition's runners-up Mohun Bagan, Chirag United, Aryan and Salgaocar SC, Goa.
The 16-day tournament, concludes March 16th, offers the winners a purse of Rs 20 lakh, while runners up will get 15 lakh. The two semifinalists will get Rs 5 lakh each.
The venues for the tournament are the Yuba Bharati Krirangan (Salt Lake), Howrah Stadium and the East Bengal ground.
Pune FC’s Gurjinder in Indian squad for AFC Challenge Cup
Pune FC’s twenty-one year old defender Gurjinder Kumar is among the 23-players to represent India at the AFC Challenge Cup kicks-off in Kathmandu on March 8, 2012. The team announced by the national body (AIFF).
The call up to the National senior side thus completes the Punjab-lad’s consistent performance in moving up the ranks after breaking into the National Olympic (under-23) squad in June 2011.
Importantly, Gurjinder’s selection comes after he was handed his maiden Senior team call up.
“It’s a dream come true nothing more,” informed Gurjinder, who becomes one of five senior India internationals at the Pune FC. The others include Subrata Paul, Baldeep Singh, Lester Fernandez and Jeje Lalpekhlua.
The former Pune FC’s Best U-23 Player of the Year 2010-11 is now looking forward to playing the AFC Challenge Cup. “I am hoping to do so,” he adds.
Gurjinder, so far, has figured in two friendly internationals – Oman and Azerbaijan, during India’s trip to Dubai for the pre-tournament camp recently. The left-wing-back was also part of the squad that played against FC Bayern Munich in the historic friendly at New Delhi earlier in the year.