The Moroccan coach praised the performance of new recruit Chizoba who scored a brace on debut for the Mariners…Karim Bencherifa heaved a sigh of relief as his side romped to a 4-0 victory over United Sports Club on Friday evening in a round 13 I-League encounter.
Mohun Bagan were struggling this season as out of the 11 matches, they had merely scored six goals – the lowest in the league. That statistic changed for good as Christopher Chizoba scored brace and goals apiece by Ram Malik and Odafa Okolie sealed the victory for the Mariners.
“The win was very important. As the coach of United (Eelco Schattorie) said before the game, we had our back against the ball. The win was tastier because we didn’t play a small team. There are no small teams in I-League at the moment.
“United are really fighting. They kept the team together for quite a while. Full credit should go to our team. United like to play possession football but they don’t play in wide areas. Ram Malik and Manish Bhargav were asked to play inside and the plan worked brilliantly. We obliged them to readjust their plans. Tactically we did a great job.”
Chizoba was roped in for Eric Muranda who never really found his feet at the club despite having undergone a trial before he was signed. The Nigerian was a livewire all evening and could have completed his hat-trick had it not been for a poor call by the linesman who raised the offside flag against him.
“He was very good. There wouldn’t have been any better option than him at this junction. He is well adjusted. He is aware of Calcutta football. He played 18 matches scored 12 goals, scored against most top teams in the local league. Taking into consideration all these factors, it was a spot on choice. He didn’t need time to adjust. He came in and clicked very well. He was also asked to do a defensive job.”
After Odafa was subject to criticism for missing a host of chances against Rangdajied United and Mohammedan Sporting, Bencherifa was pleased to see the club skipper put in a top performance.
“It was a brilliant performance from a player (Odafa) who was criticized a lot. I am very glad for him. I am equally happy with the win as well as the performance. He needed this performance.”
Bencherifa stated that his team still needs to work hard in order to get results on a consistent basis. He admitted that his squad is more suited to performing well in a Cup tournament as opposed to a league.
“We have to work hard. I wish we don’t get any major injuries. The options are very limited. We will keep working hard. With good teamwork and good discipline, we can do well.
“This team is more of a cup team. Federation cup is on 14th January. The combination between Christopher and Odafa will be good by then. Odafa too will get his fitness back. We have a very good and realistic chance for Federation Cup. We are looking for a trophy. If we can peak at that time then we should focus on both the Federation Cup and the IFA Shield. We will try for I-league but it’s a tough tournament.”
Katsumi Yusa was deployed in the central midfield and Bencherifa was impressed with the work rate of the Japanese.
“Katsumi fitted very well in the playmakers role. He amazed me with his defensive ability.”
With results not going their way, Bencherifa was feeling the heat from all quarters and should a few more matches not gone their way, the sack was imminent.
“Today for me it was a do-or-die game. I am very grateful to the players. The message that they want to give is that they want the coach to stay.”
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