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Bagan streak excites Fifa

Calcutta: Mohun Bagan’s feat of 10 wins on the trot in the ongoing I-League has its ripples being felt at world football’s headquarters in Zurich. Fifa, football’s governing body, has taken note of the green and maroon brigade’s ‘Perfect 10’ and e-mailed a questionnaire to coach Karim Bencharifa. The Q&A will be published on Fifa’s official website.

Ever since Sepp Blatter visited India in April 2007 to “wake up the sleeping giant from its slumber”, Indian football has been on the world body’s radar. The official website had carried elaborate interviews of national coach Bob Houghton and All India Football Federation president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi. Besides, Fifa has Satyam Computers as a service provider for World Cup 2010.

But publishing an interview of the coach of an Indian club is very rare. And the man in question is happy about it. “Look, 10 wins in any league is an achievement. And in Indian club football it’s a record. It shows that our performance is being noticed. And people want to know about Indian club football,” Bencharifa said.

According to Bencharifa, has quizzed him on everything from Bhaichung Bhutia and Jose Ramirez Barreto to the club culture in the country and the state of Indian football. “How important is this winning streak for the club, and how I feel about it are some of the other questions,” he said. Bencharifa, in fact, was taken by surprise to see an email from Fifa. “Your inbox doesn’t show mails from Fifa often, isn’t it?”

Ironically, this email comes at a time when most of the critics are trying to sell the idea that Bagan have been lucky in winning those 10 matches. Agreed they were not up to the mark in some— the match against Mohammedan Sporting is still fresh in our minds — but Bagan showed enough guts and gumption to deserve this feat.

Bencharifa, who has consciously kept controversy at arm’s length, did not comment on his critics. “I have a big match coming up on Sunday against East Bengal. I am focussed on that and not bothered about what the critics are saying,” the Moroccan signed off.

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