'I am very confident of saving relegation with this team' - Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa

The Mohun Bagan gaffer was pleased with his team's display and believes that they shall surely avoid the drop...
Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa was impressed with his team's gutsy display on the day and rued that his team missed two golden opportunities to win the game and gain all three points against East Bengal in a derby that ended 0-0.

"Today I have nothing to say. Shilton Paul had an excellent game. Although I thought there was not much penetaration and the opposition had hardly created many goalscoring opportunities. I think the defense and the midfield stood up very well, especially against a strong team like East Bengal," he mentioned.

He however rued the missed opportunities, the post denying Odafa's splendid free-kick and referee Santosh Kumar failing to notice a clear hand ball by Uga Okpara in the box.

"I think our strikers also did the job. It was unlucky that one hit the post and the other was an alleged handball. Of course I did not have a good view but everyone who watched the game on the television told me that it was a clear cut penalty. And if we had scored at 0-0 it could have been a different game."

However, Karim refused to criticize the referees and actually said that besides that one contentious decision, the match officials conducted the match ever so well.

"I understand the referees viewpoint too. What I can say is that in the future we also win some penalties! For a special game you need special referees. Overall they had a good game. I know all of them very well, since I have been here for six years. As I said, except for the penalty they had a great game."

When the question was put to him, that even after the appeal by him and the Mohun Bagan players to the fans to come out and support them, especially in their tough times, there were few supporters on the ground, Bencherifa refused to be drawn into the debate.

"Of course we want the fans to come and support us. But we had a great atmosphere. You could hear the roar of both sets of fans."

The Moroccan also accepted that for Mohun Bagan this season, the Kolkata Football League has an added importance.

"My focus is not on the decisions of the day but I shift my focus to the next Kolkata league match on Tuesday. Especially this time with the incidents in the I-League, Kolkata League is now a prime focus for us."

When queried about relegation woes, Bencherifa was confident of avoiding the drop after his side's display against the Red and Gold.

"I am very happy with the performance and thjat's what gives me the hope. We could have won the game today. I am very confident of saving relegation easily. We won a point today against a top team."

Bencherifa also said that he was happy that his team was on a upward curve all throughout and how they approached the match.

"Yes, when we came back we played a poor match against Salgaocar which we lost. But from then on we have only improved."

The former Salgaocar FC coach refused to accept Trevor Morgan's assertion that Mohun Bagan were defensive and wanted to bog down the East Bengal attack.

"In the first half we actually played with three men in front. Even our midfielders and full backs were pushing up to join the attack. Yes, in the second half I wanted to introduce Quinton [Jacobs] to control the midfield and retain the ball. So I had to take off either of my two strikers or my central defender. Hence I had to change it around," he reasoned.

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