Alvito wants to retire in red-and-gold colours

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Kolkata, Sep 25 (UNI) Acclaimed footballer Alvito De Cunha wants to hang his boots as the East Bengal striker but prior to doing that, he wishes to see the Red and Gold win the Indian League.

Armed with a new talisman as the East Bengal's 'Brand Ambassador', the 30-year-old Goan, a living example of the proverb ''Do what a Roman does in Rome'', says even if his club does not manage to win the I-League, the trophy must come to Bengal.

''It may sound strange since I am a Goan by birth. But I wish that even if East Bengal does not win the I-Leauge, one of the Bengal teams must win the 2008 edition,'' Mr De Cunha told reporters on the eve of East Bengal's 'Vijay Diwas' to mark the 38th anniversary of the IFA Shield win against Iran Pas Club by 1-0.

Besides EB, Mohun Bagan, Mohammedan Sporting and debutant United SC are playing in the I-Leauge.

''East Bengal was my childhood dream and playing for them was like a dream come true and it happened when I joined the club in 2002,'' the stocky striker said at the club tent at Maidan here.

He called upon the fans to renew their support base as the club had tremendous chance to bag the I-League under new coach Stanley Rozario.

''We have a great chance of winning the national league this time as we have a solid side, including Sunil Chhetri, Subrata Pal, Shivkumar Singh, N Suresh and others,'' the footballer asserted.

After being appointed as East Bengal Brand Ambassador for 2008, Mr De Cunha vowed to contribute more to the club's development by sponsoring the club's Under-13 side.

''My aim is to generate hundreds of Bhaichung Bhutias from Bengal as the Sikkimese rose to fame only after he played for East Bengal,'' Mr De Cunha said.

Along with captain M Suresh, Mr De Cunha also has another dream - to win the Federation Cup before he retires from active footballing.

East Bengal, after having a poor season opener in the Sahara Kolkata League, finished third to champions and arch rivals Mohun Bagan and runners-up Mohammedan Sporting.

Consequently, fans were not happy with the club and the first casualty was coach Monoranjan Bhattacharjee. Before his official quit notice, East Bengal officials contacted India assistant coach Stanley Rozario, who faces an uphill task to resurrect the team and rebuild the dwindling fan base over the years.

Mr De Cunha's new role was seen by many as a step in the positive direction to keep pace with the giants of footballing clubs, particularly from Goa's clubs in recent years.

UNI PC DPM RKM HT1547

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