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Date: 22 April 2019

  Zimbabwean - Soccer

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Saintfeit confirmed Warriors' coach

[Posted 25 Sep 2010]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Tom Saintfeit is new Zimbabwe Warriors" soccer team


After much ado about nothing really, the drama surrounding the identity of Zimbabwe's new national team coach ended with Belgian Tom Saintfeit being finally confirmed as the new Warriors' substantive coach.

The Zimbabwe Football Association's poor manner of handling the appointment of the Warriors' coach  threw Zimbabwean soccer into an abyss of confusion and uncertainty.

After a flip-flopping exercise which saw Saintfeit on the verge of being announced Warriors coach last Saturday, the ZIFA President Cuthbert Dube surprised his ZIFA board colleagues by unilaterally cancelling a scheduled press conference and declared that no Begian coach would be named as Warriors' coach. This unleashed a chain of events which resulted in yesterday's crucial meeting.

Yesterday's meeting resolved that Saintfeit be confirmed as Warriors coach as had been agreed by the board on Friday last week.

In an interesting turn of events, the ZIFA board resolved as follows yesterday:

  • Saintfeit will be given the greeenlight to coach the Warriors in the Africa Nations Cup 2012 qualifiers and World Cup 2014 qualifiers.

  • Norman Mapeza and Madinda Ndlovu were named Saintfeit's assistants. It is however, not clear who will serve as first assistant to Saintfeit. Common sense would dictate that it be Mapeza, but common sense has not proved to be so common among those who have the power to make decisions in Zimbabwean soccer at the moment. Even if the board could have chosen to appoint Sainfeit last week, appointing Mapeza as his assistant should have been the first thing on the minds of the board members, and Mapeza should have been advised before everyone else knew about the appointment. It is the least expected in a situation where one of the losing candidates is a caretaker coach.

  • Little known CAPS United goalkeepers coach Richard Tswatswa was named goalkeepers coach for the Warriors. How Tswatswa got a nod ahead of experienced keepers' coaches like Brenna Msiska or Peter Nkomo is difficult to understand.

  • Veteran Warriors Manager Shariff Mussa retains his position as Team Manager.

  • Friday Phiri, who was previously named one of Saintfeit's assistants in a confused development last week, has now been re-deployed to save as the new  Under 23 coach. He will be deputised by Joey Antipas and Darlington Dondo. What an irony! A man who applied for the Warriors job and lost it, Antipas, now finds himself an Under 23 assistant coach. It is difficult to discern the criteria used by ZIFA in naming all the coaches, especially the Young Warriors' coaches.

  • Taurai Mangwiro became the Under 20 coach, with Mandla Mpofu and Innocent Chogugudza as his assistants.

  • Elvis Chiweshe, who had been announced as the Under 23 coach last week, is now the Under 17 coach.

The manner ZIFA handled the senior national team appointments will surely have repercussions on the Warriors and Zimbabwean football in the near future.

One thing is certain, Dube's handling of the situation has eroded the confidence that the general soccer-loving public or even the ZIFA board has in him. The ZIFA boss did not conduct himself like a professional who can be trusted and relied upon.

Firstly, Dube somersaults on a collective decision,without having raised any concerns he had in a proper paltform, and plays to the gallery by going with a popular sentiment to appoint Mapeza.

While that might have earned him some admirers among the uninformed members of the public, those who understand procedures in any structure like a board, will not appreciate Dube's confusing conduct. Some members of his board are reported to have lost respect and confidence in his leadership.

On Sunday, Dube is on record as having promised the public that there will not be any Belgian coach if he was to have his way. Today, that promise to the public has become an unfulfilled promise. That will affect the relationship of trust between Dube and some members of the soccer loving public.

Another implication of the Warriors' coach saga is that Saintfeit, assuming that he will ultimately go on to serve as Warriors coach, will start his tenure on the wrong side of the demanding Zimbabwean media, which strongly contribute to the creation of opinions among soccer fans.

Daggers are already drawn out against Saintfeit. Only yesterday, the Herald carried a story under the title "Saintfeit Exposed". In that article, the former Namibian coach is alleged to have spruced up his CV to win the Zimbabwe coaching job.

The author of the article, a man who is well-respected by the ordinary Warriors fans, Robson Sharuko reveals that a good number of Saintfeit's claims in his CV were doctored to give a wrong impression about his experiences. In fact, the article implies that Saintfeit's conduct in his CV amounts to some form of misreprentation.

While the jury is still out on the claims by the Herald, clearly one of Zimbabwe's sporting authorities, the claims will undoubtedly create certain impressions on the minds of the readers, mostly soccer fans in Zimbabwe about Saintfeit's professionalism and ability as a coach.

Saintfeit may as well expect a hostile reception in his first match in charge, if he will be on the bench against Cape Verde on October 10. The team that he will choose, will have to perform miracles on home soil to erase the fans' memory of Norman Mapeza's much-talked about achievement of a draw away in Liberia.

What all this means is that Saintfeit is in an uneviable position, and he begins his tenure as Warriors coach under such a heavy cloud of suspicion, mistrust and lack of confidence in his ability to qualify Zimbabwe for the AFCON 2012, only for the third time in their history.

That Zimbabwe has only managed two qualifications for the AFCON finals only in 2004 and 2006, achievements brought about only under local coaches, does not help Saintfeit's cause to win the confidence of the fans whose support he needs badly for the home matches.

That all foreign coaches who came before him failed to lead Zimbabwe to either the afcon or World Cup finals, will only add pressure to the already embattled Saintfeit.

Is all this fair on poor Saintfeit?

The answer is simple. Certainly not!

If Saintfeit's work is to be affected by ZIFA's blundering, then that qualifies the Belgian to become a victim of circumstances, something which he will use to his advantage in the event that he fails to deliver.

The former Brave Warriors' coach, like any person would seek to do in the event of failure, will look for a scapegoat, and it seems like ZIFA have made it easy for him to avoid taking responsibility should he fail to qualify the Warriors for afcon 2012 finals.

The local media is likely to be on Saintfeit's case from day one until they hound him out of his position for a preferred "Son of the soil". There is such a strong nationalistic sentiment sweeping through Africa at the moment on the need to appoint local coaches in Africa.

The current debate in Africa is whether foreign coaches are worthy all the money they are paid to coach African teams. Zimbabwe is not spared in this new movement, and Saintfeit has to better prepare himself for this. He will watched with the eyes of a hawk.

Does prudence demand that Saintfeit be hounded out of his job through negative reporting by the media?

The answer once again, is simple. It does not help the motherland's cause to continue to mourn over the loss of Norman Mapeza and hackle the new appointee at every given opportunity.

Anyone appointed as Warriors' coach deserves to be given a chance and the support necessary to achieve good results with the Warriors. All that Zimbabwe needs is not necessarily a particular coach, from a particular location in the world. Zimbabwe needs results. Period.

If Saintfeit is given support, he may as well bring the desired results. Everybody who supports the Warriors will be happy. He will be happy. That is what matters. Whether the coach is Saintfeit or Mapeza is immaterial. Results will determine the success of the team. Mapeza did well, by getting us a point away in Liberia. There was still a possibility of bringing 3 points which the coach failed to do.

Saintfeit deserves a chance to prove himself with the Warriors. The job has been given to him, there is nothing that any of the people outside ZIFA can do at this stage.

The best thing the nation can do, is to give the Warriors the best support to enable the team to complete the journey they started fairly well in Liberia. That support should begin with the coach of the team, Tom Saintfeit, in this case.

If the fans are true supporters of their Warriors team, and if the Zimbabwen media has no other agenda but to see the success of the senior national soccer team, then we need to forget about our preferrences for the coach, and focus on giving Saintfeit and the Warriors a chance to do well in the AFCON qualifiers and 2014 World Cup qualifiers. 



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