Karim Bencherifa: We had to play two teams – Dempo and the heat

The Moroccan coach, assessed his team’s performance and called it worthy of a point whilst insisting Bagan were still a work in progress and expecting a bright future.

Karim Bencherifa, the coach of Mohun Bagan, was in high spirits as he praised his team on overcoming fundamentally challenging and uncontrollable factors, after toiling to a goalless draw against Dempo SC on Saturday.

Speaking after the game he highlighted certain aspects that he wishes he had control over but nonetheless, was satisfied with the resolve shown by his side.

“I think it was a tough game for us. I think for them as well. First of all, I’m happy with the draw and it was a fair result. It was like domination of Dempo on some parts of the game. We also had our moments, we had our chances.  In fact I don’t want to talk about it anymore as I’m tired of it, but I think the heat was too much.

“Throughout the game I knew we had to play two teams, we had to play the heat and we had to play Dempo. So first we had to beat the heat, then we’d have a chance to compete with them,” he mentioned.

Bencherifa stated that his side weren’t best prepared for the tie and hence was glad to pick a point against the Goan giants.

“We had some of our players like Eric [Muranda], who wasn’t fit. So he could only train one session. Katsumi [Yusa] also was just about fit to play as he and myself was food poisoned. So our preparation wasn’t the best possible for this game, especially in the last few days. Putting all of into consideration, I think I’m happy with the whole fighting spirit,” he elucidated.

The former Churchill Brothers coach opined that rating players wasn’t his best talent, enunciating, “It’s not very easy to say. I don’t think I can rate these players 8, 9 or 10. I will give my players 10 today for many things, because the game is not only won on one criterion. The game is based on the score, the performance and also the fighting spirit. Based on my players’ showing today, I’d give them ten out of ten. But there are still things to rectify. We still have a lot of young payers and I’m not just plainly stating.”

He stressed on the fact that he has a young squad at his disposal with as many as four Under-23 players in his starting eleven and three on the bench.

“I think Bagan has some of the best talents in India. There is Ram [Malik], Rajib [Ghorui] who are U-23 players - the guys on the right and left. They’re young and they have no experience of the I-League. We had a tough away game, which we had thrown them in. We had maybe four players from the U-23 set-up and there was another three on the bench. So I’m very happy the way they’re developing. Overall I believe we are heading in the right direction,” spoke a glowing Bencherifa on the squad depth and talent at his disposal.

Explaining his stand on how this game will affect the morale of his squad and the depth of talent available to him, he said, “I think it gives the players like Rajib and Ram confidence. I think it lifts the spirit of the team. We are a very new team and the combination will be going on. We are a team under construction and I wish to be lucky enough to stay with the same team for another one or two years and the results will be there. You see, when the team is worked with well, definitely the results will come. Derrick [Pereira] was for four years at Pune FC and that works.  

“There is a foundation that is helping that Pune team. We don’t have that luxury at Mohun Bagan. We have the back four, then there’s Souvik [Ghosh] who has never played with Kinshuk [Debnath], neither with Echezona [Aniyichie] or with Kotal [Pritam]. So a lot of new players, but it will take time.”

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