Belgian Coach Tom Saintfiet Still Regrets Losing Super Eagles’ Job

Belgian Coach Tom Saintfiet Still Regrets Losing Super Eagles’ Job

Tom Saintfiet, the head coach of the Gambia national team, still regrets not being named the head coach of the Super Eagles of Nigeria seven years after losing the opportunity.

Recall that after Sunday Oliseh stepped down as the head coach of the Super Eagles in 2016, the Technical Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation shortlisted Tom Saintfiet and Paul Le Guen for the job.

Le Guen, who the NFF considered to be the best contender for the position, declined the offer. To the dismay of Tom Saintfiet, the NFF chose Gernot Rohr who wasn’t initially on the shortlist.

Saintfiet stated that after the NFF Technical Committee recommended him for the role, the then NFF president Amaju Pinnick turned down the committee’s recommendation.

“Yes, in 2012 first of all, the minister of sports decided he wanted a local coach when I was already announced as the new technical adviser chosen by the technical committee at that time, which had (Austin) Okocha, Garba Lawal, and Christopher Green. Again in 2016, I was close to the job, I was to get the job with the local coach Salisu Yusuf, but they chose Paul Le Guen for the job”, Tom Saintfiet was quoted as saying.

“He refused and it would have been normal that I would have been there with Yusuf. I considered myself as the second or third choice, but it was Amaju Pinnick who didn’t follow the technical committee’s decision and went for Gernot Rohr, who was not shortlisted; it was a big disappointment.

“Then I went to Bangladesh and got a lucrative offer for a short term, but the ambition was always there to coach Nigeria and guide them to a successful AFCON and also guide them to World Cup success.”

Years after he failed to secure the coaching job in Nigeria, the 50-year-old Belgian tactician guided lowly rated Gambian team to the country’s best-ever campaign at the 2021 AFCON in Cameroon.

Saintfiet’s team was praised for their fluid football as they achieved a stunning 1-0 win against Tunisia, another 1-0 victory over Mauritania, and a 1-1 draw against Mali to finish the group stage undefeated despite having a squad filled with unknown players.

Gambia advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating Guinea 1-0. However, their journey in the competition ended in the quarter-finals stage when they lost 2-0 to the host nation Cameroon.

Meanwhile, according to a report by the Punch, Amaju Pinnick, who is currently a member of the FIFA Council, has debunked Tom Saintfiet’s claims against him. When asked if the claims of the Belgian tactician were true, Pinnick replied: “Not at all.”

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