Football: The former Pune FC head coach, Karim Bencherifa will coach the national team for a month to help the Dragon Boys prepare for the upcoming SAFF Suzuki Cup 2015 that begins from December 23 in Trivandrum, in Kerala.
Having coached 12 different teams in five different countries from three continents, in a career spanning over two decades, 47-year-old Bencherifa brings along a wealth of experience. The former Moroccan footballer is currently heading Warrior FC, a Singaporean football club in the Singapore League.
The national team will however be led by coach Pema. Coach Pema said that the new attachment coach will not only help him improve the team with his experience and fresh ideas but will also be a good opportunity for the players to learn new techniques and tactics from the Moroccan coach. “I’m looking forward to work with the coach who’ll brings his several years of experience in the game,” he said.
SAFF Suzuki Cup formally known as the SAFF Championship is a biennial regional football tournament for the South Asian (SAFF) international teams.
A total of eight teams from the region including Bhutan will take part in the 12-day tournament. Bhutan is placed in Group B with the defending champions Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Maldives. In Group A, the host country India will take on Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Coach Pema said that the tournament will not be an easy contest for the Dragon Boys as all the participating countries have also played in the World Cup qualifiers and gained the same experience as the Bhutanese. “Especially in our group, the opponents are tough. We all have the same level of game experience going into the tournament,” he said.
However, coach Pema is hopeful with his team after the recent World Cup qualifiers campaign. “From the first game we had against Sri Lanka, the players have grown in skill and techniques and the team in general has improved a lot,” he said. “I expect them to do even better in this upcoming tournament and I believe their game will just grow from hereafter.”
Meanwhile, after the last home game against Qatar on Tuesday, the national team is on a weeklong holiday. The practice for the SAFF Suzuki Cup will commence from November 23. The new attachment coach, Karim Bencherifa is also expected to arrive on the same day.
Bhutan will play its first game of the tournament on December 24 against Maldives at the Trivandrum International stadium in Kariavattom in Kerala, India.
By Younten Tshedup