Home / Volley / Global Football / DJW never supported me! Saintfiet quits as Trinidad and Tobago coach… on Facebook!

DJW never supported me! Saintfiet quits as Trinidad and Tobago coach… on Facebook!

The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team was plunged into further disarray this morning as Tom Saintfiet quit his post as head coach, just before lunch—barely one month into his tenure with the Soca Warriors.

And, almost in keeping with the farcical business of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), the announcement was made, not through a media release or press conference, but via a Facebook post.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Tom Saintfiet shouts instructions during 2017 Gold Cup playoff action against Suriname at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 4 January 2017. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Tom Saintfiet shouts instructions during 2017 Gold Cup playoff action against Suriname at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 4 January 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“I resign as National Team Coach of T&T!” posted Saintfiet, on the wall of his social media account.

The Belgian coach confirmed that his stance was genuine and said he already shared his feelings with the foreign media. He said he no comment to make to the Trinidad and Tobago media or public at the moment.

Saintfiet’s last job was as coach of the Bangladesh football team, which is ranked 185th in the world by FIFA. His record as Warriors coach comprised of losses in both competitive matches against unheralded Suriname and Haiti, coupled with a win and a loss away to Central American minnows, Nicaragua.

Off the field, he fell out or omitted a remarkable number of senior players including: captain Kenwyne Jones, leading scorer Joevin Jones, goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, ace midfielder Kevin Molino, winger Cordell Cato and defenders Daneil Cyrus and Triston Hodge—not to mention management at Pro League and Caribbean champions, Central FC.

However in a statement relayed to Wired868, which Saintfiet presumably sent to the foreign media, he claimed that the TTFA did not provide him with the right environment for success.

“I would like to inform you all that I have decided to resign, today Tuesday 10 January 2017, as National Team coach of Trinidad and Tobago. Given the mandate to guide the team past Panama and Mexico in the coming World Cup qualifiers of March 2017, I have come to the conclusion that I can’t be successful in this environment.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (second from left) welcomes new National Senior Team coach Tim Saintfiet (second from right) during a press conference at the Marriott Hotel on 7 December 2016. Looking on is new general secretary Justin Latapy-George (far left) and technical director Muhammad Isa. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (second from left) welcomes new National Senior Team coach Tim Saintfiet (second from right) during a press conference at the Marriott Hotel on 7 December 2016.
Looking on is new general secretary Justin Latapy-George (far left) and technical director Muhammad Isa.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Saintfiet revealed that he felt let down by TTFA president David John-Williams from his very unveiling on 7 December 2017.

John-Williams told the media that Saintfiet was not his first choice but was merely the most affordable person on the shortlist. And he promised to sack his new coach within three months if he did not deliver four points from two World Cup qualifying games against Panama and Mexico on 24 and 28 March 2017.

“[Saintfiet] was not our first choice—for sure,” said John-Williams. “Our first choice was way out of what we could have afforded. And I make no apologies for saying that. And I can tell you who our first choice was as well. Philippe Troussier. And Tom knows that.

“I will also tell you this… if he doesn’t get the job done on the 24 and 28 of March, he will be looking for a job. And I make no apologies for saying that. He is laughing but we’re very serious.

“Because if we don’t get the job done on the 24th and 28th of March, we might as well kiss our campaign goodbye.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Tom Saintfiet (right) talks to his squad during 2017 Gold Cup playoff action against Suriname at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 4 January 2017. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Tom Saintfiet (right) talks to his squad during 2017 Gold Cup playoff action against Suriname at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 4 January 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Saintfiet said his biggest regret was not leaving Trinidad there and then.

“From the first day of my unveiling, I did not get the support of the TTFA and its President,” stated Saintfiet, “support which is needed to be able to do my job in a professional and successful way. I never got the chance to work with the players nor staff requested.

“Perhaps I should have taken this decision right from day one of my appointment, after the President openly second guessed his own choice of employing me. But I gave him at the TTFA the benefit of the doubt.”

Wired868 asked John-Williams for comment on his sudden resignation, whether the football body now believes that it erred in hiring the obscure European in the first place and on his coach’s suggestion that he did not feel supported by the football body. He had not responded up to the time of publication.

However, in a media release after Saintfiet publicised his departure, the TTFA claimed he resigned formally to John-Williams last night.

“The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association wishes to advise that Tom Saintfiet issued a letter of resignation as head coach of the National Men’s Senior Team to TTFA President David John-Williams on Tuesday night.

“The TTFA President then referred this letter to the Technical Committee of the TTFA and the Committee recommended that Saintfiet’s resignation be accepted and  be ratified by the TTFA board.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams enjoys himself at new head coach Tom Saintfiet's maiden training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 15 December 2016. (Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams enjoys himself at new head coach Tom Saintfiet’s maiden training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 15 December 2016.
(Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)

John-Williams appointed a stream of interim employees since he became president on 30 November 2015, which were perceived to be a means of creating instability for his employees so that he could dictate to them.

If so, it backfired spectacularly with Saintfiet, who publicly criticised players from John-Williams’ W Connection football club before his dramatic walk-out—just hours before the technical committee was due to meet to discuss his start as coach.

At his first meeting with the media, Saintfiet bragged that he had never been fired as a coach. It seemed a bizarre claim for a man who has rarely lasted more than nine months at any job—most of which were in second and third tiers teams in Africa.

Today, Saintfiet arguably gave a demonstration of his ability to dodge the axe and leave on his own terms, with a plausible reason for his failures to boot, as he waved goodbye to the two island republic.

“It was an honour and privilege to work for a beautiful nation like Trinidad and Tobago,” said Saintfiet, “and I wish the players, staff, TTFA, fans and the whole football family the very best.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet shares a light moment with a member of the crowd during 2017 Gold Cup playoff action against Suriname at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 4 January 2017. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet shares a light moment with a member of the crowd during 2017 Gold Cup playoff action against Suriname at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 4 January 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

The TTFA promised to name Saintfiet’s replacement “in the shortest possible time.” Local coaches Russell Latapy and Jamaal Shabazz served as the Belgian’s assistants in the recently concluded 2017 Gold Cup playoffs, in which Trinidad and Tobago finished bottom of a three-nation group that included Suriname and Haiti.

“The Technical Committee has advised that a replacement for the post of Men’s Senior Team Head Coach will be found in the shortest possible time and the TTFA will make an announcement on this in due course.

“The TTFA wishes to thank Mr Saintfiet for his efforts over the period he served as head coach of our National Men’s Senior Team and takes this opportunity to wish him well in his future endeavours.”

Former Trinidad and Tobago World Cup 2006 and England Premier League goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, now an analyst at ESPN, commented on Saintfiet’s resignation on his Twitter page:

“T&T football. I don’t know if to laugh or cry.”

Photo: Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet delivers his resignation from the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team job to the public.
Photo: Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet delivers his resignation from the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team job to the public.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 15 years experience at several local and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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361 comments

  1. EVERY BODY WANTS TO BE A STARBOY. NO DISCIPLINE AND A STINKIN ATTITUDE!!! JESUS CAN’T EVEN COACH DIS STAR STUDDED TEAM. F**K DEM, LET DEM COACH DEY SELF!!!

  2. We can get Shaka Hislop to link us with Harry Rednap to save us from relegation

  3. They only want coaches looking like them.

  4. Yow our football in such a epic mess eh, lack of discipline from All levels.

  5. Need to recruit players with Trinidad parentage and a foreign coach like a Brazilian or German . No local coaches please they just don’t have the grade. And for all them Party players who like to go on boat cruise please get rid of them and djw please spare your country the embarrassment and resign. Stephen hart or Ramesh Ramdhan for ttff president. Sam allardyce would of been a good English coach. Dunga or klinsman

  6. That is very good TNT footballers don’t need a coach we TNT people feel we know every thing ha ha ha good for they ASS

  7. I believe we have some of the best talent. Problem is our attitude. I’m certain the underdogs passing us today don’t have the best coaches. Their players however, probably have the passion, hunger and work ethic that we seem to lack.

  8. What a joke this whole thing has been.

  9. I am sorry for us at this stage..the talent just is not there…do not blame the coach. Coaching should start at 8 years of age at least.

  10. Nothing can be done overnight wasn’t treated nicely he is no magician

  11. What again…… These Presidents only want puppets….

  12. The coach is not the problem is the players time to get new players

  13. Here we go again .. selecting another coach to take the team to World Cup .. it’s not going to happen overnight .. players have to be young, professional, disciplined, commited etc .. they can’t be depending on the past .. move forward .. a lot of the country’s money is spent here

  14. Beyond embarrassing. DJW and technical committee should do the “right thing” and bid Sayonara as well after this latest fiasco.

  15. Said before & I’ll say it again, DJW has removed all doubt that he is an utter CLOWN. Firing a coach that had us playing the best since Beenhakker, then undermining his already terrible hire on his first day. What did he expect shitting on Saintfiet from day 1 to do? Spur him & the team on? Is he literally retarded or just a petulant fool?

    DJW==CLOWN.

  16. which Hart yu referring to , he just followed instructions ,like good ceos and presidents

  17. Now u people are seeing Hart was not the problem after all

  18. no wonder there is no respect and so much indiscipline in sports, where these appointed senior people come from

  19. He should have left after the first announcement by the chairperson, where in the world do yu threaten an employee before he starts.

  20. We all know that he just wanted 2 bring in WConnection coach

  21. more bacchanal. We don’t like we own, so we have to suck salt. How much did this charade cost the country?

  22. I say he was damn right. I agree with everything he said in his resignation letter including what he said about the TTFA President’s berating of him at the introduction press conference. Remember I was first to mention that back then, going against the pack.

  23. Sainfeit was part of the plan…. He is no victim, he got a month in the Caribbean, maybe a 10k-20k USD… A good month by his standard

  24. So we await the appointment? Was it here that someone said that the TTFA President deliberately brought Saintfield and berated him in the presence of the media so that when he leaves the WConnection coach will be appointed. Waiting…….waiting

  25. What a thing….. Was expected, Sainfiet was all part of plan for the eventual….

  26. I am glad Saintfiet has resigned.He was a waste of time! Hope the TTFA employes a proper European coach or a good T&T coach like Angus Eve..St Lucian Stuart Charles Feveir isn’T bad either