Karim Bencherifa was brought to Mohun Bagan in a bid to resurrect the club's fortunes after a disastrous start to their season. The Moroccan has not had the string of results he would have liked as he attempts to keep the Mariners safe from the ignominy of relegation.
Sunday's defeat to East Bengal in the semi-finals of the IFA Shield was yet another disappointment in their poor season. The Mariners were in the lead by a single goal and looked the better side till Red and Gold striker Andrew Barisic scored to take the game into penalties. The Green and Maroon lost 4-2 in the shootout thanks to the heroics of rival custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
“Of course, losing a derby has its effects, I won’t deny that,” Bencherifa said to The Times of India on Monday. “But, on the positive side, we have time to regroup. I have given the boys off for two days and then we will have four days to prepare for the Arrows game,” he added.
The Mariners are due to play Pailan Arrows in the I-League on Sunday which will be followed by games against Shillong Lajong FC and Dempo SC. The coach has two players vying for the third foreigner slot in the First XI in Quinton Jacobs and Tolgay Ozbey.
With Bencherifa opting to use the former against East Bengal and bringing on Tolgay only during extra time, the coach had removed the player who had given the Red and Gold a major headache for a better part of the game. The former Salgaocar coach however backed his decision and said that he would alter his lineup based on the opposition. He also added that he brought on Tolgay in a hope to win the game during extra-time.
On rumours of a reported bust-up with the Australian striker after the derby defeat, the coach was not one to comment on it too much. "Locker room-related matters should remain in the confines of the locker room itself," said the Moroccan to The Telegraph.
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