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The four teams – Delhi United, CRPF, Punjab Police and Assam Rifles – were supposed to play the last qualifying match to get into the main draw of the Durand Cup, but Tuesday evening provided them relief. With Churchill Brothers and HAL withdrawing themselves from the competition, two more vacant spots were left to fill in. So, the organising committee in a meeting on Tuesday decided to include the last four standing teams of the knockout stage into the main draw.

“Earlier two teams from the knockout had to join the main draw but at this moment Churchill backed out. We included Mumbai FC in place of Churchill but they also resorted to a similar decision. While we were contemplating how to fill the vacant place, we were informed about HAL, who too withdrew soon after. Since the main league was approaching, we decided to give the last four teams a chance to play the main draw,” confirmed Durand official BN Singh.

It was a celebration in the Delhi United camp after they saw qualification in its third attempt after failing in the first two. But a lot of pressure has eased from Delhi United as they play CRPF in an inconsequential tie before preparing them mentally for the Durand league. “When you play in the knockouts, every match is literally the last match but I would say, on Wednesday we will have no pressure of pulling a win because we are already through. This match will be a good platform to learn from the mistakes we have committed till now,” said Delhi United chief BS Mehra.

They might have had a bit of luck in getting into the main draw, but the local side are confident of leaving a mark once they are in the main draw. “We are confident as we might be tagged with Air India and Pailan Arrows in the Durand Cup league. The positive thing for us is that main players of both these teams are busy for other clubs and some of them are on national duty. And considering the fact that our run in the tournament has been satisfactory, we believe that Delhi United might pull off wins,” he concluded.