IFA Shield an acid test: East Bengal coach

February 21st, 2008 - 5:12 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata, Feb 21 (IANS) Newly-appointed East Bengal coach Aloke Mukherjee is viewing the IFA Shield as an acid test before the red-and-golds embark on their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) campaign. Mukherjee replaced Manoranjan Bhattacharya late Wednesday night after the latter refused to continue on personal grounds.

Bhattacharya was appointed coach only for the I-League after taking over from Subrata Bhattacharya in January this year. Manoranjan wants to focus on his son’s board examinations and said he was giving up after doing his job of saving East Bengal from relegation.

“I was surprised when they called me last night and told me about the club’s decision to appoint me. It’s a great responsibility and an honour,” Mukherjee told IANS.

“The IFA Shield is going to be my acid test. I know all the players. While I have groomed some of them, I know the others during my stint as an assistant coach of the national team. So it should not be very difficult,” Mukherjee said.

“I know the entire team management and they are well disposed towards me. Not many people know I was brought to East Bengal as a player by Mona da (Manoranjan Bhattacharya). He is there to advise me.”

He said he would watch East Bengal’s last I-league match at Salt Lake Stadium Saturday and start practice after that. “We hardly have time to prepare for IFA Shield,” he said.

Asked how successful he would he be with the kind of strike force he had, considering that East Bengal failed to win 10 matches on a trot in I-League and barely staved off relegation, the noted left back of his time said: “The team had played well before. With Edmilson fit, Ashim Biswas back, Rahim Nabi and Sur Kumar Singh in full flow we should manage. Alvito is always there. I know them all.

“Although I’m like a temporary man at the job I don’t see it that way. I shall sit with the players and discuss a few things and thereby devise a strategy for the AFC Cup,” he said.

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