Karim Bencherifa has stated that his side will put in their best efforts to ensure that they make it to the finals...
Salgaocar successfully negotiated what could have proven to be a tricky group in the Federation Cup to reach the semi-final stage, where they face dark horses Shillong Lajong in a bid to book a spot for the Final of the prestigious tournament.
Goal.com caught up with the Goan club's coach Karim Bencherifa as the team prepares for the crucial match against Pradhyum Reddy’s men in Kolkata and spoke to him about his team’s chances.
The Moroccan swiftly brushed aside the tag of favourites in the tie and feels that the Khasis will definitely be well prepared for the match as they have had a day more to prepare for the game. He said, “I think being the favourites is a positive thing but Lajong have had an extra day to prepare for the semi-final as their last group game was one day before ours and they reached Kolkata before us. Ideally we should have played the second semi because of the travelling and the fact that we played our last group match on Thursday. But we are quite confident and looking to give a good performance in order to reach the final”
The I-League Champions Coach also feels that consistency has been key to the team’s progression to the semi-finals. He emphasized that, “I believe we have been very consistent in this tournament because even the game that we drew 0-0 against Mumbai FC, we played well and created lots of chances.”
On adapting to conditions in Kolkata, the Salgaocar coach commented, “We have to adjust to the weather conditions and of course the artificial turf as well. It's interesting that Salgaocar won their last Fed Cup in Kolkata and even I won my only Fed Cup as a coach with Mohun Bagan in Kolkata.”
Kolkatan teams have been victorious in the tournament for five consecutive years, however Bencherifa is not looking forward to breaking that trend yet, as he is fully focused on the semi-final. He stated “We cannot think about the final now because we have a semi-final to win and if we do that, then certainly we can think about winning the tournament.”
He also refused to take any credit for his nomination in the FPAI Best Coach category and said “I would like to thank my players. It is because of them that I have been nominated. I am really honoured but I prefer trophies as a team to individual accolades."