Karim Bencherifa: I didn't expect injuries to key players when I took over Mohun Bagan

The Moroccan hailed the fighting spirit of his side that lost 3-0 to Dempo SC in Goa, while ruing injuries to key players...
Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa suffered his first defeat with his new club this season, when his side went down by three goals to Dempo SC, on Wednesday evening.

Joaquim Abranches and Ryuji Sueoka scored the two first half goals for Dempo, while Godwin Franco scored in the 70th minute to complete the three-goal rout of Mohun Bagan who were reduced to ten men when Biswajit Saha was sent off in the 53rd minute.

The Mariners coach however feels that the sending off of Biswajit Saha was the turning point of the match, despite conceding twice in the first half.

"We (Mohun Bagan) had a good spell in the first half where I think we could score some goals. In the first half, the only major things were two or three good counter-attacks from Dempo which gathered two goals," the 44-year-old said after the match.

"We tried to fix things and I think they came back with a great character in the second half. We were also pushing but the turning point basically was the red card. After that it was very difficult to play against a good team like Dempo," he continued.

"They (Dempo) had no players who would give away the ball cheaply. They are good in their passing and play good as a team. So when you play 11 versus 11 it's difficult, but 11 versus 10 is even more difficult," he reasoned.

Bencherifa salutes Mohun Bagan players for their fighting spirit

Bencherifa continued to hail the fighting spirit of his side throughout the length of the match: "I want to really salute the character of the players because we were down and had the pressure to win, but the boys kept fighting. So this is something I would want to highlight and I want to salute all the players for their fighting spirit till the end."

He further stated, "You look at the injury list that we have, and I want the team to play a certain way. Since we left Kolkata, we had two training sessions. Number one: because we are traveling; number two: because you can hardly do anything when many of your players are complaining about muscle injuries.

"All of them have muscle injuries. Today [Jewel] Raja. Yesterday it was Mehraj (Mehrajuddin Wadoo), add to that [Syed Rahim] Nabi. It's a very difficult situation for us, but we have to show character and we have to fight to get the team back on track in time."

The Mohun Bagan tactician, in his second stint with the Kolkatan giants, also believes that anything can happen in the title race as he gave the example of Prayag United SC.

"Just a couple of rounds back, Prayag [United SC] were in the top two. They drew one game, they lost one game and they are fourth now. These things can happen to the top teams as well - East Bengal, Dempo, or Churchill [Brothers]. Of course, they are in a good position, but [it] can happen to them if they have any missing players, injuries or suspensions - you cannot judge as these three teams are making a big gap between them and the mid table," he said.


at Mohun Bagan
Meanwhile, Karim Bencherifa claims that he has not lost hope with his new side as he has accepted the challenge to win trophies with Mohun Bagan.

"I have to keep hope [in Mohun Bagan]. Without hope, what can you do, you pack and you go," he quipped. "Yeah, it is difficult now as the players are demoralised, the team is down. But we have to keep fighting. My challenge now is to give back the motivation to the players.

"If you see the good results of Mohun Bagan in the last month, it was almost a full team. I didn't expect that when I took over, there would be so many injuries to key players, but it's not an excuse. I'm here to do the job and I'll try to do my best," he signed off.

Follow Anselm Noronha on 

How do you stay up with football when on the move? With http://m.goal.com –your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.