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The Moroccan coach was a relieved man as his team are back in the I-League after the Indian FA chose to revoke the two-year ban...

Mohun Bagan have 16 games to garner as many points as possible in order to save their season after the All India Football Federation (AIFF) reinstated them back into the I-League following a two-year ban imposed by the I-League Core Committee last month for having failed to turn up for the second half proceedings in the derby against East Bengal after Syed Rahim Nabi was struck by a missile from the stands.

The Mariners start with a clean slate in the league and coach Karim Bencherifa took this as an opportunity to advice the fans to not repeat their vicious behaviour.

“I am happy with outcome and we are looking forward to the challenge ahead. It’s a tough one but we are prepared and I hope that we will overcome this difficult task. But I would like to remind that the derby incident started with stones thrown on the field and I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to all fans to be careful with such things as it could have been fatal,” he told Goal.com.

The break from the I-League for Mohun Bagan over the last month or so has been healthy given that they have managed to get all their players fit and ready for the task ahead. In the first two months of the I-League, the Green and Maroon were riddled with injury concerns and never had their entire squad available for selection.

“Up to date we are injury free the last few weeks have been difficult for us because of the situation we had but it has allowed us to regroup ourselves and work hard to be ready for the challenges ahead,” Bencherifa informed.

Bagan will have to play matches within the space of a few days as fixture congestion will surely be a cause of worry for the coach.

“No doubt but we have to deal with situation, we will have many games and little time but I am confident we will overcome all this,” he mentioned.

It must be noted that Bencherifa, after his exit from Mohun Bagan in 2009, joined Salgaocar FC who were placed second from bottom mid-way through the season. He managed to inspire them to a sixth position finish and were one of the best teams in the I-League in the second half of the season. Incidentally Mohun Bagan’s first game will be against Salgaocar FC in Goa on January 20.

“Well I do remember that I took Salgaocar from almost bottom to a credible 6th position in my first season with them. In fact we were the second best team in the second round (second half of the season),” he reminisced.

“But this one is a unique challenge; being bottom with 0 point and the closest team to us is 10 points (United Sikkim) ahead is no joke, but there is no meaning for life especially in sports without challenges and difficulties. The positive thing is there is only one way is up,” he signed off.

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