IFA Shield my acid test: Aloke Mukherjee

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Kolkata, Feb 21 (UNI) Newly appointed East Bengal (EB) coach Aloke Mukherjee is seeing IFA Shield as an acid test before the red-golds embark on their AFC campaign.

Aloke, replaced Manoranjan Bhattacharya late last night after the latter refused to continue on personal grounds.

Mr Manoranjan 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 the red-golds from relegating.

''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,'' Aloke Mukherjee told UNI.

''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 assistant coach of the national team. So it should not be very difficult,'' Aloke 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 advice me,'' he added.

He further said that he will go to watch East Bengal's last match at Salt Lake stadium on Saturday and start practice after that. ''We hardly have time to prepare for IFA Shield,'' he said.

Asked how successful would he be with the kind of strike force he had, considering that East Bengal failed to win 10 matches on atrot in the I-League and barely saved relegation, the noted left back of his time said, ''This team 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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