A familiar face to Singapore football from the past has been appointed as Singapore’s national women’s head coach.
On 28 February, the Football Association of Singapore announced that it had appointed Moroccan Karim Bencherifa as the new head coach of the Women’s National Team from 1 March 2023.
According to the FAS, he was selected from numerous applicants, which included both locals and foreigners, and has committed himself to a two-year contract.
The Moroccan will fill the position left vacant by Stephen Ng.
Bencherifa was a former Woodlands Wellington coach who helped the Rams finish third in 2005, and also helped them reach the Singapore Cup final that year.
The 55-year-old, who holds the AFC Professional Coaching Diploma, which is the highest level of coaching accreditation issued by the Asian Football Confederation, 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.”
Bencherifa has also held various coaching positions in nine countries from Morocco, Malta, USA, Brunei, Malaysia, Yemen, India, Guinea, apart from his stints in Singapore with Woodlands, Tanjong Pagar United and Warriors FC.
In India, he gained legendary status when he led Salgaocar SC to a league and cup double in 2011.
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.
Bencherifa 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.
FAS’ Technical Director Michael Browne said, “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).
MAIN PHOTO: KARIM BENCHERIFA