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Saintfiet in the cold


Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet must be regretting why he came to Zimbabwe in the first place.

This after he was reduced to a mere tourist by the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) when on the surface it had appeared the Namibia mentor had come to be unveiled as the new Warriors coach.

Saintfiet spent the whole of Tuesday “touring Harare” with Premier Soccer League chairman Twine Phiri and later Zifa vice president Ndumiso Gumede who took the Belgian for a “courtesy call” on president Cuthbert Dube.

Gumede said: “He spent the day today with Twine (Phiri) familiarising with the city. We were later called by Dube’s secretary who said she had squeezed time for us. We paid a courtesy call which lasted for 20 minutes. Nothing serious was discussed.

“I’m not sure if the president (Dube) will be able to meet him (Saintfiet) because we have Ashford Mamelodi (Fifa regional representative) in the country and the president (Dube) has a tight schedule. “We hope there will be time for the president (Dube) and Tom to meet.”

Dube’s actions come as no surprise after he was quoted categorically stating that he will not be appointing any Belgian gaffer for the Warriors post. Dube is said to prefer caretaker coach Norman Mapeza.

Efforts to get a comment from the former Buymore chairman were in vain as he was said to be in a series of meetings at Premier Service Medical Aid Society where he is the chief executive while he also switched off his mobile phone.

He unilaterally cancelled a press briefing which Saintfiet would have been announced Warriors coach on Saturday afternoon.

Speaking at a Harare hotel, a visibly disturbed Sainfiet said: “I don’t have much to say at the moment. I don’t have time on my side but I will wait and hear what Zifa have to say.”

Dube was quoted in a Sunday newspaper as saying: ““There were recommendations to appoint the Belgian coach but as the president I have the final word and that decision will have to be changed.

“We will soon announce the national team coach and I can assure the nation that we won’t be getting the Belgian coach.”

And true to his word, Dube did not have time for Saintfiet and it is not clear if he will have some today.

Zifa were expected to unveil the Namibia coach as the new Warriors coach after his arrival on Monday but acting chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze last night said “meetings were going on.”

It would appear Saintfiet is still negotiating his contract while there are strong doubts if he was ever interviewed.

Many people had tipped caretaker coach Mapeza to land the top job after his impressive 1-1 draw away to Liberia in the opening match of the 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

But the Zifa technical committee led by second vice president Kenny Marange had other ideas after they decided to bring Saintfiet who is expected to be assisted by the duo of Madinda Ndlovu and Friday Phiri with little known Richard Tswatswa expected to be the goalkeepers’ coach.

Many thought the arrival of Saintfiet on Monday night would close the “Great Circus” but it would appear we are in for long haul of confusion and mystery.

A statement that was due to be read to the media on Saturday went like this in part: “The board took exactly 53 days to come up with the right candidate for the national coach. It was not easy to find one, as a lot of considerations had to be taken.”

Among the key factors looked at by the board were the technical astuteness, tactical acumen, planning abilities, the right coaching qualifications, previous achievements, maturity, knowledge and scope of influence to the outside world beyond our borders and knowledge and opinion of Zimbabwean football by the candidates.

“We looked for the best candidate for the job, one who we could trust with our most valuable asset for the coming four years and possibly beyond.

The candidate is Tom Saintfiet from Belgium; he meets the above mentioned attributes and qualifications and has very strong connections around the globe.”

In the meantime Saintfiet will continue to enjoy the hospitality Zimbabwe has to offer while he watches his “Great Circus” film at a hotel in the capital.

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