Kolkata: Salgaocar's Karim Bencherifa is in line to become India coach after All India Football Federation decided to offer him the national job but on the condition that he is released by his club.
AIFF's emergency committee meeting on Thursday evening unanimously agreed on Bencherifa after he guided Salgaocar to their fourth Federation Cup title, defeating East Bengal 3-1 in the final. It was the Goan side's first Federation Cup title after a gap of 14 years.
The current vacancy has emerged after Dempo's Armando Colaco turned down a one-year contract offered by the AIFF after his four-month stint with the national side ended on Friday.
Colaco had served as India coach without being released by Dempo of which he is also the secretary but the AIFF said Bencherifa will have to leave Salgaocar if he has to take up the national job.
The Moroccan has one year left in his contract with Salgaocar, the current I-League as well as Federation Cup champions.
"We have decided on Karim Bencherifa to coach India. But it won't be justified taking him as coach unless Salgaocar release him," AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das told reporters on Friday.
He said Bencherifa has expressed an interest in coaching India but since he has a three-year contract with Salgaocar the ball is in the court of the Goan club.
"Salgaocar are a part of AIFF family. So Bencherifa too is a part of AIFF. We have to talk to (the club owner) Mr Shivanand Salgaocar. If he agrees, Karim will be India coach," Das said.
Asked if AIFF had a plan B if Salgaocar refuse to release Bencherifa, Das said the federation had also thought of Pune FC coach Derrick Pereira and David Booth.
"But Pereira too is associated with a club (Pune FC). So we will have to wait and see," he said.
Das said they have finalised Rob Baan of the Netherlands as the technical director on FIFA's recommendation. "I will be going to the Netherlands on October 10 to clinch the deal," he said.
In the wake of poor refereeing standards in the just-concluded Federation Cup, Das said AIFF would form a committee as part of Project 2018.
"We are forming a referee committee to be headed by Gautam Kar to improve the quality of refereeing in India. The committee will groom upcoming referees," he said.
The AIFF has also planned for a dazzling opening ceremony at Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on October 22 to kick-off the I-League 2011-12.