NATIONAL team coach Tom Saintfiet was handed his contract last weekend by the Namibian Football Association (NFA), but the football association called off the press-conference scheduled to announce the signed deal at the last minute on Tuesday morning.
NFA Acting Secretary General explained that, “Certain loose-ends still have to be tied before going public with the Coach’s contract,” even though it is almost certain that Saintfiet has already signed the deal.The Sports Ministry is alleged to have advised the NFA to call off the presentation of the Coach’s contract on Tuesday morning. The government is the biggest sports stakeholder and has paid the salaries of the last two Namibian coaches.
The cancellation of the press conference was because, “certain stakeholders had to be informed and consulted before going public,” according to Rukoro.
Later that afternoon, the 35year old coach flew to his 63 year-old father’s wedding in Belgium, from where he will return in a fortnight.
It has since emerged that during discussions over his contract, Saintfiet told the NFA that he was worth much more than his predecessor, Arie Schans, as a point of departure for the contractual negotiations that began prior to the Kenya qualifier.
Arie Schans, who was fired after just six-months in office, was reportedly receiving N$100,000 a month, N$40,000 more than his more successful predecessor, Ben Bamfuchile - although the NFA has never been one to play with coaches’ figures in public.
During the NFA Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday, where delegates were informed of the Coach’s contract, Saintfiet advised the meeting that “now that he has a contract, he would like to see a good relationship between the media and NFA,” and the starting point was supposed to be his contract unveiling on Tuesday.
“He gave a good presentation during the AGM and everyone was elated. We were also happy with the announcement of his contract,” said Eleven Arrows owner JJD, who attended the AGM.
Saintfiet signed a four year contract with an optional two-year extension, meaning the Belgian will be in charge of the team during the 2012 Nations Cup, with the two years both being qualifiers for the World Cup.
“During the negotiations of his contract we were told he also included Tim Isaacs (national team manager) saying that he would not sign the contract if Tim is not given a contract as well, because of the hard work he does,” said an NFA official on Monday, following the news that everything would be revealed at the ill-fated press conference the next day.
NFA was however shocked when Saintfiet, despite claiming to be “worth more than Arie,” told them he did not want to be measured financially.
“He refused to get what Arie got because NFA is operating on a loss and he chose to get less than the Dutchman but more than Ben (Bamfuchile); you will hear more tomorrow,” a source told Informanté on Monday.
Saintfiet announced that he wants to be the best coach in Namibian history. During negotiations at the AGM, Saintfiet is said to have asked NFA to allow him to “play and lose friendly matches” during his imminent build-up of the team.
Namibia wanted to play Angola on November 19, but the match had to be cancelled due to financial constraints.
Unlike Schans, who embarked upon an eight match losing streak, Saintfiet has lost twice in as many matches and recently revealed that his personal goal is to break Rustern Mogane’s record as Namibia’s best Coach. Mogane coached the Brave Warriors between 1994 and 2002, winning 12, drawing 15 and losing 16 out of 43 games.
“I will miss the early start of the league, but I will be back soon after my barber’s wedding.” His father is also his hairstylist and barber.
“I have not had a haircut in a long time because we are not together. I feel happy around here and I like the potential that I have seen. The country and the people are good. Almost everything is sealed. We only need to agree on the co-corporation for the next four years, but it looks well,” Saintfiet said.
The Coach said he plans to watch Collin Benjamin and Wilko Risser in the German league whilst in Europe and take Oliver Risser to a football lawyer to contest the career threatening tackle against a Kenyan defender.