National Team - Lionesses ● Feb 28, 2023
FAS appoints Karim Bencherifa as new Women’s National Team Coach
The 55-year-old Moroccan brings extensive experience having had various coaching stints across nine different countries, including Singapore
SINGAPORE, 28 FEBRUARY 2023 – The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has announced today that Karim Bencherifa will be appointed as the new head coach of the Women’s National Team from 1 March 2023.
Karim was selected from numerous applicants, which included both locals and foreigners, and has committed himself to a two-year contract. The Moroccan will pick up the reins from previous head coach Stephen Ng, who stepped down late last year.
Karim boasts an impressive track record, having held various coaching positions in nine countries, (Morocco, Malta, USA, Brunei, Malaysia, Yemen, India, Guinea) including Singapore. Fans of the then S-League would be familiar with his success with Woodlands Wellington when he was nominated for Coach of the Year in 2005.
He brought the Northern Rams, who had only won one in five games thus far, to a respectable third-placed league finish and narrowly lost out in the Singapore Cup final against Home United (now known as Lion City Sailors). He had also briefly coached Tanjong Pagar United and 2014 S.League champions Warriors FC in 2004 and 2015 respectively.
In between his coaching stints in Singapore, Karim’s Midas touch continued overseas in India where he took the underachieving Salgaocar SC and led the Goa based-team to a league and cup double.
The team won their first-ever I-League title in 2011, which was the highest football league competition in India during that time before following it up with a second trophy when they won the Indian Federation Cup. Salgaocar also went on to qualify for the 2012 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup for the first time in its history as well.
For his achievements that year, Karim was awarded the I-League Coach of the Year award. In addition, he also coached some of India’s top teams such as Mohun Bagan AC, where he won the Indian Federation Cup and Indian Super Cup in 2009, Churchill Brothers FC Goa, and Pune FC. Karim’s coaching period in India spanned a total of seven years and proved to be a career highlight – he won a total of six trophies and was league runner-up on eight occasions.
On the international country front, Karim had previously taken charge of the first ever Moroccan national women’s team for a year in 1997 and helped them qualify for their first international match at the 1998 African Cup.
He took charge of the team once again in 2017 coaching them for the next two years as he set about strengthening the foundation of the team. By the time he stepped down from the role in 2019, the team had a youthful average age of 24 years old and comprised of a significant number of players from the Under-20 squad.
The 55-year-old, who holds the AFC Professional Coaching Diploma, which is the highest level of coaching accreditation issued by the AFC, said: “I am honoured to take on this role of being the Head Coach of the Singapore Women’s National Team.
“The Lionesses are a team with raw potential, and I am looking forward to working with the players to fully develop their technical abilities while building up strong mental fortitude so that they can compete with the region’s best. I consider Singapore as a second home and I am delighted to be back being a part of the local football community.”
On how he intends to achieve this, Karim shared that his approach would be no different from his previous stints.
Earning a reputation for his disciplined coaching style, he is clear with how he intends to take on the latest challenge, saying: “Building a winning mentality does not come overnight. It takes dedication, commitment and most importantly, belief in oneself as well as each other. I intend to focus on coming up with structured training programmes that goes beyond harnessing the players’ technical abilities.
“It also involves communication by being able to understand each player’s personality and the team’s dynamic as a whole. From there, game strategies will be created to suite their level of expertise and strengths. While winning games is the ultimate end goal here, I want the Lionesses to firstly enjoy playing every game. At the final whistle, regardless of the score, they should already be looking forward to doing better for the next game. The desire to constantly want to improve must never cease.”
FAS Technical Director Michael Browne adds, “Karim has extensive experience of coaching both male and female teams across numerous countries. He also has experience of coaching and living in Singapore which will undoubtedly be beneficial as it gives him the advantage of having a good understanding of football in the country.”
Karim is set to lead the Women’s National Team through competitions such as the 2024 AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament this April, the 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia (May), and the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China (September).
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FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE