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Odafa Okolie, Karim Bencherifa, Mohun Bagan (Photo: AIFF)

'It was like a knockout tournament within the league for us' - Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa

Odafa Okolie, Karim Bencherifa, Mohun Bagan (Photo: AIFF)

AIFF Media

The Moroccan coach led the Mariners away from relegation and targets maximum points in the remaining games of the I-League....

Karim Bencherifa will no doubt breathe a sigh of relief after he saw his team edge out Pailan Arrows 2-0 at the Kalyani Stadium in Kolkata. The win has ensured that Bagan will compete in next year’s I-League after they were under the danger of being relegated. The Mariners had to start the year with 0 points as a punishment for their actions during the Kolkata Derby in December 2012.

“I feel really happy for the fans and grateful to the players,” said a happy Bencherifa to The Times of India, accepting that this was probably the toughest challenge of his coaching career.

Karim left Goan club Salgaocar under acrimonious circumstances to take charge at Kolkata after the Mariners sacked coach Santosh Kashyap who is now the gaffer at ONGC FC.

“It is not every day that you find yourself in such a position. At that time, we were on zero points while the nearest team to us, United Sikkim FC, was on 10. It was like a knockout tournament within the league for us. It was extremely difficult. When we started off, we felt the weight of the mission,” explained the 45-year old while mentioning that the team gained confidence with every win.

The coach knows the value of momentum and he expects similar performances in the remaining games as the I-League winds down for the year.

"We will put in a very professional performance in the two I-League matches and after that we have two very crucial matches in the CFL Premier Division," signed off Karim. 

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