Bencherifa to coach Courts Young Lions?
Former Woodlands coach spotted at old hunting ground
It was his former stomping ground, where he famously led Woodlands Wellington to a third-place finish in the S.League in 2005, when the Rams also ended up as losing finalists in the Singapore Cup.
But Karim Bencherifa's return to the Woodlands Stadium on Thursday night was tinged more with excitement at a possible new start, rather than a nostalgic reminiscing of glory days gone past.
Sources have revealed that the Moroccan could join the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) as the Republic's national Under-23 coach, a role vacated by Aide Iskandar on the very night the team were booted out of the South-east Asia Games football tournament in the opening group stage.
Bencherifa (right), 47, was in the company of FAS officials, technical director Michel Sablon and national goalkeeper coach John Burridge in the VIP stands on Thursday, watching as the S.League's bottom side, the Courts Young Lions - effectively the national U-23 side - stunned leaders Warriors FC 2-0.
He was even spotted walking down to shake hands with the victorious Young Lions after the game.
In response to queries from The New Paper, the FAS said in a statement: "We are in the midst of the appointment process and an announcement will be made in due course."
With Aide's SEA Games assistant coaches, S Subramani and Kadir Yahaya, also leaving the fray, German Juergen Raab, who joined the FAS as a fitness coach with the SEA Games squad last October, took over as head coach of the Young Lions in their last two fixtures since the resumption of the S.League.
The FAS did not respond to questions on the German's future, but TNP understands that his contract ends in October, with the league season running till Nov 22.
The FAS is currently conducting a review on the U-23s' SEA Games performance, with its executive council set to sit next week,
A review of the S.League and the local football ecosystem is also ongoing, leaving some in the fraternity surprised that Bencherifa is being lined up even before findings of the review are announced.
In a twitter post from his personal account on June 15, Bencherifa said that he was on the way to the Casablanca Airport, to fly to Singapore.
Several coaches were understood to have thrown their names into the hat for the vacant U-23 position.
Former Geylang International coach V Kanan was upset over what he termed an unfair process.
Kanan claimed that he sent in his application on July 1 to FAS's National Teams Department general manager Jason Lee, and even received a reply acknowledging his application, but was not called in for any interview.
Kanan possesses the Asian Football Confederation Professional Coaching Diploma, the highest coaching certification in this part of the world.
"This is not fair, I have been through the youth system in Singapore and I know the current batch of players well, and I have a Pro Licence," he said yesterday.
Bencherifa has coached various clubs in India over the last nine years, even winning the Indian I-League and the Federation Cup with Salgaocar in 2011.
He also helmed Tanjong Pagar United in the 2004 S.League.