Salgaocar extend coach Bencherifa's contract
Salgaocar coach Karim Bencherifa has been rewarded for taking the side to their maiden I-League title with a two-year extension of his contract till 2013.
Salgaocar president Shivanand Salgaocar said besides the experienced Moroccan coach, most of the I-League title-winning players will be retained.
"We will build on this core team by plugging in the gaps to provide a more balanced side with adequate bench strength to meet the future challenges, especially the AFC competitions," the club president said.
"We have also extended the contract of Bencherifa for two years till 2013," he added.
Shivanand praised Bencherifa for his ability to motivate youngsters to perform well.
"Young guns Gilbert Oliveira, Cajetan Fernandes, Anthony Barboza and Francis Fernandes have been the finds of the season. Bencherifa has been able motivate the players to give their best," said Shivanand.
Bencherifa, on his part, said the I-League triumph by his team is the "sweetest" of his career, as it came with a young and inexperienced squad.
Image: Salgaocar players chair coach Karim Bencherifa after clinching the 2001 I-League title
'I-League triumph is the sweetest'
The Moroccan, who guided the team to the national title after a gap of 12 years, said, "I won many trophies, whether with Churchill brothers or Mohun Bagan, but the I-League triumph is the sweetest, as it comes after a long, hard season."
"This triumph means a lot to me, my players, staff and management. I would also like to dedicate this triumph to the Salgaocar fans. They were really behind us, especially at home and that helped us a lot," declared Bencherifa.
"This is my first I-League title in India in five years. Previously, I missed out on the national championship twice with my former clubs Churchill Brothers and Mohun Bagan," he said.
Despite Salgaocar being inexperienced, Bencherifa spurred the side to the coveted title.
"Nobody accounted us to be champion material at the start of the I-League. But we performed consistently well, drew the best crowd and came up with some memorable performances," he said.
"The title was slipping out of our hands until we beat Churchill Brothers and later beat East Bengal after being down by two goals. I must thank our fans who believed in us, and that is the fitting reward for their faith in us," he said.
Image: Salgaocar players celebrate after beating JCT and making sure of the I-League crown