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Date: 16 December 2018

  Zimbabwean - Soccer

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Of deportation & match-fixing suspicion cloud: Will it ever get better for Tom?

[Posted 07 Oct 2010]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Lutz Pfannenstiel,Saintfeit"s choice for Warriors"s keeper coach, is a match-fixing convict

New Warriors' coach appointee Tom Saintfeit's problems of settling into his new job in Zimbabwe are far from over with revelations that he has been kicked out of the country for breaching immigration laws.To compound matters, his goalkeeper's coach is a match-fixing convict, it's been revealed.

Home Affairs department dealt Saintfeit a new deadly blow by ordering him to leave the country until he regularises his residence and work permit papers. This will throw a damper on the Warriors' preparations for the Cape Verde match.

Harare Home Affairs regional office insists that Saintfeit has broken the law by beginning work without a requisite permit and should therefore leave the country and work from outside the country's border.

In a startling revelation, the Zimbabwe Football Assocation had not applied for the Belgian-born coach's work permit until only on Tuesday, despite his appointment having been confirmed more than two weeks ago, Home affairs have said.

Saintfiet had already started conducting training sessions this week, beginning with the South Africa-based contigent of 11 players who surprisingly included Energy Murambadoro who had indicated his non-availability due to injury.

The 11 SA-based players were joined by 9 Europe-based stars and Edward Sadomba of CAF Confederations Cup semi-finalists Al Hilal of Sudan.

Harare regional Immigration officer Evans Siziba explained that the new Warriors coach breached the immigration laws by working without a permit, and ZIFA are the biggest culprits for now properly handling the matter.

"Our laws don't allow people to apply for work permits when they are already here (in Zimbabwe).

"He has already broken the rules and that's why we have asked him to leave," Siziba said.

Saintfeit, together with his goalkeepers' coach Lutz Pfannenstiel, were served with deportation papers by the Immigration authorities on Tuesday during a training session at the National Sports Stadium's B arena. 

It is an open secret that the appointment of Saintfeit was not well received by the Zimbabwean media which seriously formulates and influences public opinion. The public has been swayed by the media and it is possible that most fans are sceptical of Sainfeit's abilities and bonafides at this stage.

Saintfeit's case has not been made better by damaging revelations that the man he chose to be his goalkeeper's coach, German national Lutz Pfannenstiel has a past seriously tainted by match-fixing allegations which led to a conviction and jail sentence in Singapore.

Pfannenstiel has gone down in the history of Singapore soccer as providing that country with the first real case of corruption which led to prosecution and conviction.

In 2000, the normadic Pfannenstiel who played for the S. League's Geylang United was arrested, prosecuted and convicted for match-fixing together with co-accused Jurong's Mirko Jurilj. The duo went on to serve three of the 6 months jail sentence imposed on them.

The Zimbabwean media has correctly questioned why ZIFA appointed such a man with a dangerous record, at a time when ZIFA is known to have adopted a zero tolerance towards match-fixing.

ZIFA CEO Henrietta Rushwaya faces on-going prosecution from ZIFA for similar allegations.Thats how ironic the appointment of Pfannenstiel sounds given this background.

The media reports in Zimbabwe about Pfannenstiel's match-fixing conviction could possibly torch suspicions that Saintfeit, who has worked with Pfannenstiel in Asia before (where match-fixing is known to be rife), could also have some links with the Asian match-fixing underworld. In many people's eyes, that makes Saintfiet a possible danger to Zim soccer.

The reality of the matter is that while it is unfair to link Saintfeit to match-fixing for which his goalkeeper's coach was convicted, perceptions are more damaging than reality. If the Warriors's fans are to have respect for the coach, ZIFA needs to move in swiftly to clarify the status of Pfannenstiel regarding the reported match-fixing conviction in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's Sports Minister David Coltart has castigated the decision of Home Affairs to aks the coach to leave. The minister is of the view that the Immigration department acted without national interests at heart. He has since taken steps to remedy the situation.

'I have written to the co-ministers of home affairs to ensure that this decision is reviewed. It was made with no national interests (at heart) and it will definitely affect the performance of our team,' David Colart said from Harare last night. 

It is not clear when the Immigration department will issue Saintfiet with a work permit. Indications from Home Affairs earlier this week were that it takes up to 6 weeks to process the papers. Former Warriors coach Valinhos had his permit processed within two days.

Should Saintfeit's permit not be processed by Sunday, Norman Mapeza is expected to take charge of the team against Cape Verde at the National Sports Stadium, and will be assisted by Madinda Ndlovu.

 

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