The vastly respected Moroccan football coach Karim Bencheriffa, is one of Africa’s most experienced coaches, having travelled the world to spread his football philosophy. So when someone with his football wisdom shows concern about the much vaunted African Super League, we have to sit up and take notice.
Who then, is coach Karim Bencheriffa?
This Is Football.Africa went digging to find out more on the well travelled and experienced Moroccan football mentor.
Umar Mathir (UM): Assalamu Alaykum (Peace be upon you) Coach, for those who don’t already know. Please tell us about your history in the game of football, and what coaching badges or licenses you hold currently?
Karim Bencheriffa (KM): (I’ve been) Super passionate about football from a very young age. I was a very average player at the time, but I never gave up on football, in fact I oriented my education around it.
Despite having options to do studies in fields such as medicine and architecture, I decided to pursue a career in sports by way of obtaining a bachelors degree in sport sciences in both Morrocco as well as in Germany. Soon after that, I began my coaching career by doing coaching courses in Morocco and abroad. I then got into the business of the coaching, started off with youth teams in Morocco initially, then Malta, USA, Asia, Guinea and then back to Morocco, where I’m now the head coach of Ittihad Zemmouri Khemisset FC (IZK , a Morocco Botola 2 league team). I also hold the Pro License coaching badge.
Football gave me what I wanted in life, and it’s a blessing to have coached in 8 different countries, on 4 continents, and I’ve visited no less than 50 countries in the world, for international games, seminars or coaching courses.
UM: Coach, tell us about your time in Guinea, where you coached sleeping giants, HAFIA FC, a team that once dominated African Football in the 1970’s , winning the African Cup of Champions Clubs thrice (1972, 1975 and 1977) …
KB: Back in 2020, after a short stint with Mouloudia Club Oudja in the Botola Pro League, I got the offer from Hafia FC and immediately said yes to them. Firstly, because I made a lot of trips within Africa as a National Coach with DTN (Direction Technique Nationale) of Morocco, to countries like South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and so on, with U-17, U-20 and Senior Ladies teams. As for our men’s U-23 teams and locally based senior national team players, I’ve traveled with them to countries like Tunisia and D.R Congo. I knew from the onset, that the experience of being the head coach of a club like Hafia FC, would be challenging and at the same time an exciting experience. I had spent a season and a half between the years 2020 and 2022 with them, and I think my contribution was more to structure the club and make it more professional in terms of the day to day running of football team business. Of course, the fact that the team has their own stadium, and full support from their president did help. I’m sure the results will start coming in the near future, because the foundation is there now.
UM: You’re back in Morocco now, coaching Ittihad Zemmouri Khemisset FC, a team currently playing in Botola 2, which is one tier lower than the league in which Raja and Wydad of Casablanca play in, tell us a bit more about this?
KB: Yes, after the end of my tenure with Hafia FC I took a well deserved break in Europe, that’s when I got the offer to coach I.Z.K, which is a club with quite a good history, despite it featuring in Botola 2, and I decided to take the challenge. It’s not an easy task because I joined the team late into their season, but we’re doing well now and improving week in and week out.
UM: How was your time at Mohun Bagan FC, a club which is not only one of the oldest, but also best supported teams in India?
KB: My whole experience in India was great, I had spent 9 years with 4 clubs, and at all of them, I’ve achieved something. Winning the league twice, being a runner up twice, having played in the AFC Cup twice, having also been the highest paid coach of Indian football at the time. I had two stints, as far as coaching Mohun Bagan is concerned, it’s the oldest club in Asia, and the Indian derby against rivals East Bengal Club has a huge reputation on the Asian continent. Right up until now, I still receive plenty of messages from supporters of Mogun Bagan on social media, they even remember my birthday and always send me nice messages.
UM: Coach Karim, what are your thoughts with regards to the CAF Super League, which is intended to kick off next year (2023)?
KB: In short, I’m not a big fan of the CAFSL. For the simple reason that, in my opinion, I’m afraid it could draw all the interest towards it, from sponsors, broadcasters and so on, and the vast majority of the clubs that won’t be involved in this tournament, could end up becoming poorer as a result.
UM: You have met Khemiso Motaung, one of the daughters of Kaizer Motaung Senior, the founder of Kaizer Chiefs, any possibility that you might join the mighty Amakhosi one day?
KB: I have a lot of respect for the Motaung family, I have met Khemiso, and did talk to her sister Jessica from time to time…what a great football family, working hard for the development of football there. With regards to coaching Kaizer Chiefs, I would say why not, but for now, I’d like to wish good luck to the current coach and staff.
UM: Coach, thanks for your time, and we’ll talk again soon, take care…
KB: The pleasure is all mine, bye for now.
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