Moroccan vows to do a Churchill for Mohun Bagan

March 24th, 2008 - 2:50 pm ICT by admin  


Kolkata, March 24 (IANS) Foreign football coaches have hardly succeeded in India, but Moroccan Karim Bencherifa is an exception. He says the key to his success lies in understanding India’s ethos and to get his message across. He guided Goa’s Churchill Brothers last year to a Durand Cup win. The team was also runners-up in the inaugural I-League. Now he has a much tougher task at hand. Bencherifa is all set to take up the challenge of coaching Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan.

When the Moroccan took over Churchill Brothers, he knew it was never going to be easy to manage a team of youngsters, generally inconsistent and without any star footballer.

“All I can remember now are the good moments I had at (Churchill Brothers). I would like to take this opportunity to thank Churchill Alemao for treating me as part of his family. I also thank all the players for cooperating with me to help achieve whatever success we enjoyed,” Bencherifa told IANS.

Bencherifa first made his decision to quit after the last I-League game against Air India, which his side won 3-0. “I informed the management about my intentions. They asked me to reconsider till the end of IFA Shield,” said the former national coach of Brunei.

Asked about the secret of his success, he said: “I don’t want to comment on other coaches. As for me, I like to see each new assignment as a unique case. Each nation, club and side has its own culture, mindset and a way of dealing with things. My effort is to understand it and then communicate my message in the best possible manner I can. When there is least miscommunication, success is bound to follow more often.”

However, the coach is sad to leave Churchill Brothers. “There is sadness no doubt but I had to move on. This is professional football. I fondly remember all the players on the bench and wish them all the best.”

Bencherifa doesn’t want to think much about his differences with Churchill star striker Odafe Okolic, which led to his (Moroccan’s) resignation from the Goan team.

“That is the past. Mohun Bagan is the future. Odafe is a fine footballer and that is all I want to remember. I had a wonderful group of players and I am taking with me some fine souvenirs.”

Churchill Alemao, owner of the Goan club, gave a letter of appreciation to Bencherifa for his excellent work.

Bencherifa added: “I know the club (Mohun Bagan) has a long history. It is the oldest club of the country, and of late it has not done very well. My aim will be to achieve its lost glory.

“If all hands join together, success is bound to follow. When I say all hands, I mean the coach, the support staff, players and administrators and even the fans. What you need is patience and hard work.”

His credentials speak for themselves. He has been a member of the Moroccan ministry of sports and youth development and he coached both at club as well as international levels.

“I am prepared for the pressure the job brings with it. Even a club in Malta will have pressure to perform. The coach is as good as his team. I am not buckled down by pressure, it ignites me,” he said with a smile.

Will Mohun Bagan play Bayern Munich May 27? “The topic came up during our discussions. It will be a rare opportunity and a great honour. But I will be joining the club only in June. If they want some input from me, they know how and where to contact me.”

The Moroccan went on: “The Indian players are hard working and give their all on the pitch. The one area where Indian football is behind is the aspect of fitness and athleticism. You need them to be good athletes too.”

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