Home / Volley / Global Football / Maybe you’ll qualify for hockey W/Cup! Saintfiet’s staff insults T&T, eyes Swaziland job

Maybe you’ll qualify for hockey W/Cup! Saintfiet’s staff insults T&T, eyes Swaziland job

Even as the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) ponders its replacement for former head coach Tom Saintfiet, the Belgian looks set to return to familiar territory: a second-tier Africa football nation.

The National Football Association of Swaziland (NFAS) has named Saintfiet as one of roughly 15 applicants to coach its national team, which is ranked 99th in the world and has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup or the Africa Cup of Nations.

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)

Saintfiet, according to the Times of Swaziland, is in a two-way battle with local Harries “Madze” Bulunga for the job. And, considering that the NFAS chose not to renew Bulunga’s term as caretaker coach just two months ago, the departed Warriors coach looks to be a shoe-in.

At Saintfiet’s unveiling in Port of Spain on 7 December 2016, he claimed to have never been fired from a job and also blamed his string of failures across the developing world on a range of excuses from jealous assistant coaches, bitter journalists and ISIS.

And, in his sensational resignation letter, the Belgian made it clear that he attributed his short-lived and unsuccessful stint in Trinidad and Tobago to poor support from TTFA president David John-Williams, indisciplined players and failure to get the right coaching staff.

Saintfiet has had 18 jobs in the last 14 years in nations like Namibia, Ethiopia, Yemen, Malawi, Togo and Bangladesh. Trinidad and Tobago, ranked 78th in the world, was easily his most illustrious posting while his second highest ranked employers, Togo, were 96th when he took over.

Saintfiet was appointed by the TTFA board of directors, which comprises: John-Williams (president), Joanne Salazar, Ewing Davis and Allan Warner (vice-presidents), Samuel Saunders (Central FA), Sherwyn Dyer (Eastern Counties Football Union), Karanjabari Williams (Northern FA), Richard Quan Chan (Southern FA), Anthony Moore (Tobago FA), Joseph Taylor (Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association), Sharon O’Brien (Women’s League Football), Wayne Cunningham (Eastern FA) and Dexter Skeene (TT Pro League).

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)

The TTFA technical committee which put Saintfiet on its shortlist consists of: Skeene (chairman), Dr Alvin Henderson (vice-chairman), Errol Lovell (former national goalkeeper), Jinelle James (ex-national player and current administrator) and Muhammad Isa (technical director).

The Soca Warriors played four times under Saintfiet and lost three of their matches including two Gold Cup play off matches at home against Suriname and Haiti. During his term in Trinidad, the Belgian clashed with the management of Pro League champions, Central FC, axed team captain Kenwyne Jones and fell out with a string of senior national players including Kevin Molino, Joevin Jones and Daneil Cyrus.

Remarkably, Trinidad and Tobago was not Saintfiet’s shortest stint. His only top flight stint in Europe—outside of the Faroe Islands—ended without a single competitive game, as Finnish club RoPS showed him the door during their pre-season while South African club, Free State Stars, parted ways with the coach after just two matches.

Saintfiet sought to impress members of his coaching staff by producing emails which suggested he had an array of professional opportunities in Europe, including France’s second division. Instead, his next destination looks typical of his undistinguished career so far.

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)

While Saintfiet said it was “an honour and privilege to work for a beautiful nation like Trinidad and Tobago”, his South African fitness coach Riedoh Berdien appeared to be far less complimentary as he allegedly posted using the Twitter account of Fitness Football Ltd—a South African-based company.

“T&T will never play a WC again. Maybe qualify for the hockey WC [hysterical laughter emoticon].”

The Twitter account further mocked ex-Soca Warriors coach Stephen Hart and Central FC managing director and World Cup 2006 player Brent Sancho. And, bizarrely, claimed that the Trinidad and Tobago media was paid to write positive stories about Hart.

When Wired868 suggested that Berdien was behind the tweets, Fitness Football pretended not to know who that person was. The possible flaw in that defence was that Fitness Football retweeted messages from Berdien about three times a day.

They came, they saw, they blundered… Next stop? Swaziland!

Rough excerpt of Tom Saintfiet interview for Belgium Soccer via Google Translate:

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet (right) makes a point to paramedic Dave Isaacs during training at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 15 December 2016. (Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet (right) makes a point to paramedic Dave Isaacs during training at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 15 December 2016.
(Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)

“I had expected a professional framework, but it was thick against… On paper Trinidad also very good players. Unfortunately I have the professional players who are active abroad never seen…

“I organised the end of December a training camp in Nicaragua, but no professional team manager was available. Of the 30 players I had called, there were 17 not show up. The best-known players, such Khaleem Hyland (Westerlo) and Levi Garcia (AZ Alkmaar) were not released by their clubs, but others were not even invited. it is however the task of the league and the team manager. Eventually I just played inexperienced guys with a lot from their own league…

“If the Red Devils miss their fifteen best players, they can still catch it. In a small country like Trinidad & Tobago is extremely difficult. I had to do it with a C-team.

“There were problems with passports, with registrations and even with the game tops. I have as coach never to cooperate with such unprofessional people. That is why I have given my resignation.”

Parting shots from a South African fitness trainer, believed to be Saintfiet’s employee, Riedoh Berdien:

Photo: Football Fitness, presumably ex-Trinidad and Tobago football team fitness trainer Riedoh Berdien, spars with Nigel Myers from Soca Warriors on Twitter.
Photo: Football Fitness, presumably ex-Trinidad and Tobago football team fitness trainer Riedoh Berdien, spars with Nigel Myers from Soca Warriors on Twitter.
Photo: Football Fitness, presumably ex-Trinidad and Tobago football team fitness trainer Riedoh Berdien, spars with Nigel Myers from Soca Warriors on Twitter.
Photo: Football Fitness, presumably ex-Trinidad and Tobago football team fitness trainer Riedoh Berdien, spars with Nigel Myers from Soca Warriors on Twitter.
Photo: Football Fitness, presumably ex-Trinidad and Tobago football team fitness trainer Riedoh Berdien, takes on Wired868 reader Kendall Tull.
Photo: Football Fitness, presumably ex-Trinidad and Tobago football team fitness trainer Riedoh Berdien, takes on Wired868 reader Kendall Tull.
Photo: Football Fitness, presumably ex-Trinidad and Tobago football team fitness trainer Riedoh Berdien, takes a pop at Wired868 managing director Lasana Liburd.
Photo: Football Fitness, presumably ex-Trinidad and Tobago football team fitness trainer Riedoh Berdien, takes a pop at Wired868 managing director Lasana Liburd.

AboutLasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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107 comments

  1. This clown Fred Sainfiet playing he could bad our footballers and federation but if he had a ‘better’ federation would he and the team have done better? That is the question.

  2. Hey if we can’t get the humming bird on the new license correct you think football will be better

  3. When I see the poorest nation in the western hemisphere put licks on us twice… Trinidad football is not in a good place

  4. True but he still have not taken any team to the world cup as yet

  5. Lol, your last quote says it all.

  6. Michael Samuel you see, I have no problem with the former coach, thus have no words with him. He’s not to blame if our fumbling, bungling leader and cronies thought he was the solution. He had no other opportunity so he came and it was the highest ranked job he ever had or would have gotten. But even mongrels have pride. He came and experienced the treachery and idiocy we all have been speaking about and even he run. The joke is on us. It stings to me because a man who should never have had a shot could now be talking about us as he is……. is like a jamette watching decent and good men like you or lasana and saying “you cyar get me boy come better than that”. Lol

  7. Don’t shoot the messenger Lasana Liburd. Bandits is people too lol

  8. I must say. We all know what it takes to manage a team. These days money is important, we don’t even have that, to compete at world stage, u need to spend, and also habour the correct talent.

  9. How can I applaud a bandit for telling me I need better locks?