Karim Bencherifa: ‘We didn't give them enough respect and we paid the price for it’

The Moroccan coach of Mohun Bagan gives his view on his team’s horror show against Dempo SC, vows to get the Mariners out of trouble

Karim Bencherifa, coach of Mohun Bagan, admitted his players were casual in asserting themselves over the Dempo SC threat, something which came back to haunt the three time National Football League winners after they lost at home to the visitors from Goa.

Explaining what went wrong, the gaffer elucidated, “We can sum it up as a very pathetic first half but a good reaction in the second. I wasn't happy with how we started. We gave the advantage to Dempo. The atmosphere before the game was that Dempo have a lot of problems.

Only one foreigner and 16 players. I couldn't make the players realize that the game was difficult and had to be won on the field. We didn't give them enough respect and we paid the price for it. I spent about ten more minutes talking about how serious this game is. Difficult and crucial.

“Everybody has put in Dempo as a young team. Possibly, the best in the country. The worst part was the first twenty minutes. We closed down top strikers like Chidi and Moga. Here we allowed spaces and could not close them down. We know Dempo is speedy, the hunger will be there. The difference between our youngsters is Dempo have nothing to lose. It was a normal result if Dempo would lose. No pressure. Credit to Dempo. They worked their heart out,” added the Moroccan.

Asked if his players lacked a leader, Bencherifa said, “We are few players playing that role. When you don't perform very well it is very difficult to lead. Not only Odafa. Five-six players are helping out the youngsters a lot. Sometimes it’s also the pressure of our situation. I am lucky to have top class defenders on the bench. Unfortunately, it’s a bit limited when it comes to defenders and midfielders. Pankaj sent me a message today to give him more chances in spite of the pressure of the situation.”

Quizzed on Denson Devadas’ form, Karim replied, “We shouldn't be harsh on Denson. He has been playing continuously since last season. So there will be bad patches. Sometimes as a coach you need to give breathing space."

Finally, Karim concluded by focusing on the cynosure of the Mariners’ problems, discussing the conditions wherein he expects his team to bounce back. “Losing is a habit. Unfortunately we don't have winning as a habit. We have a graph that goes up and down. We have to stop that and we need consistency. The day we manage to get 2-3 wins in a row, we will get the confidence and the performance will be better."

“The league is quite funny. A loss can put us in the bottom three depending on results. Bengaluru have the advantage that they are only focusing on the I-league. I am not sitting home and relaxing. I get in touch with coaches of one or two I league teams to get a midfield player. But that did not materialise. The majority of the clubs are united regarding not signing IMG-R players. We cannot keep crying on that. I completely understand the position of the club. It’s by principle.”


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