SAINTFIET APOLOGISES

Claims he was ‘misguided, misused’ by ZIFA

JOBLESS coach Tom Saintfiet says he was used and misguided by the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) and would like to join the Brave Warriors again.

Speaking exclusively to Namibian Sun Sport the Belgian coach who is currently residing in Windhoek after his deportation from Zimbabwe has for the first time spilled the beans on the saga which saw him ditch Namibia for a more lucrative job coaching the Zimbabwe Warriors.

“I was misguided and misused by the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) and they made me leave my good job in Namibia,” Saintfiet said. He however says he still feels he did the right thing by taking the Zimbabwe job at the time. “Like any other ambitious person I was given a good offer and had to take it, but in the end I was shocked and disappointed by how ZIFA handled the matter,” he said.

Saintfiet blames ZIFA for their delay in contacting the Namibia Football Association (NFA) regarding the matter and says that this was what forced him to lie to Namibia. “They promised me that they will talk to the NFA and it was supposed to happen sooner than it did. The situation forced me to lie and for that I have to say sorry to the Namibian football-loving people, the NFA and the players as well,” said Saintfiet.

After leading Namibia to a 3-1 defeat against Gambia in the African Nations Cup qualifier, Saintfiet left without his employers’ blessings for Zimbabwe where he signed a lucrative contract with ZIFA to coach the Zimbabwe Warriors. It however emerged that he had no work permit and he was subsequently deported by the immigration authorities in Zimbabwe. “That damaged my reputation and coaching career because it is a first for a coach not to get a work permit.”

The NFA is demanding 18 600 euro (about N$169 074 at the current exchange rate) in compensation from the coach for his breach of contract. NFA Secretary General Barry Rukoro has been quoted as saying that negotiations are progressing with his lawyers who are demanding that ZIFA pay the penalty. “We just want what is due to us,” Rukoro said. Saintfiet said ZIFA promised him that they will pay and that he understands the NFA’s demand for their dues.

“We signed a contract with them and because I terminated it I have to pay them and I’m doing everything I can so that can be done.” The coach said that should he not be allowed back to coach the Brave Warriors, he would be willing to work with any other African team.

“What happened was so wrong and I would love to come back and coach Namibia again. The players are calling me back but I understand why the NFA have not contacted me on this matter. I sometimes meet up with my former assistants Ronnie (Kanalelo) and Brian (Isaacs), they are my friends and so are many other Namibians and I wholeheartedly regret what happened.”

As coach of the Brave Warriors Saintfiet led the team to four wins, four defeats and seven draws in official FIFA matches. Speaking about what lies ahead for him, Saintfiet said he leaves for Europe early next year to weigh up his options. “I’m a professional coach and it’s my job, but sitting idle is boring.”

Author: 
Sport Reporter
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