Belgian soccer coach Tom Saintfiet’s work permit application to become the Warriors gaffer has been rejected by the country’s Immigration authorities, a development that has dealt Zifa a body blow.
The football governing body will have to look elsewhere to get a new substantive coach or relaunch another bid to have Saintfiet get the official papers, something that might prove difficult for Zifa president Cuthbert Dube and his company.
Zifa are in a fix in that they have a binding contract with the Belgian in which he is supposed to get $8000 in salary and other benefits.
The other perks include payment of health insurance in Belgium and an apartment in Germany. The development means Saintfiet is ruled out of the friendly match against Mozambique next Wednesday.
The Saintfiet setback comes hardly a week after assistant coach Norman Mapeza resigned because he had no contract and felt unwanted by the Zifa board after they voted against him handling the Mozambique game. Zifa acting chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze confirmed the news: “Yes, it is true but we are preparing a media briefing on the issue. I will call you later.” Mashingaidze did not live up to his word.
While specific reasons for denying the coach the permit could not be established last night, Zifa erred in applying for the permit when Saintfiet was already in the country when the laws of the country state that this should be done when the applicant is outside or in his country of residence.
But indications are that Saintfiet’s application was incomplete as it did not have a letter of termination from his previous employers Namibian Football Association (NFA).
There is no guarantee that the Belgian might get the letter from Namibia after its secretary Barry Rukoro branded the Zifa board “a leadership of fools” for the “immoral lure” of Saintfiet.
Assistant regional immigration officer Evans Siziba reportedly told Zifa that they should furnish the department with a letter of termination from the NFA among other requirements before Saintfiet’s work permit could be processed.
“We have also noted that the application (for a work permit) does not include the letter from the Namibian Football Association showing that they have terminated the coach’s contract and we will require all that information.
“We cannot grant a permit in a situation where the applicant has two valid contracts in different countries,” said Siziba.
Rukoro was quoted recently: “It’s about the new Zifa leadership of fools who talked to our coach on the eve of an important match for Namibia. After Zifa made contact with Tom (Saintfiet) he became arrogant and insulted everyone on the eve of the Gambia match. He created animosity in camp and we went on to lose that match.”
Saintfiet is holed up in Namibia at the moment while sources this week told NewsDay that Zifa were already considering a move for former coach Charles Mhlauri who is now in the United States.
In the event that they fail to snare Mhlauri, the Dube-led board want to rope in Botswana-based Rahman Gumbo, a decorated coach who has won championships in three different countries.
He won the top accolades in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Malawi. Gumbo was not available for comment last night.