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Date: 23 April 2019

  Zimbabwean - Soccer

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ZIFA's Saintfeit appeal fails....what next?

[Posted 03 Dec 2010]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Looks like its all over now for Saintfeit. ZIFA"s permit appeal has failed.

The Zimbabwe Immigration department has made an obvious announcement; that Tom Saintfeit's appeal against the declining of the initial application, has failed.

It boggles the mind to even imagine what the Zimbabwe Football Assocation officials were thinking when they agreed in Kariba a couple of weeks ago to launch an appeal against the failed work permit for Zimbabwe national team coach Saintfeit.

Reasons were given by the Immigration department for the declined work permit. They included the fact that Saintfeit had not submitted a letter of release from the Namibian Football Association, and that ZIFA had not justified the employment of the coach ahead of other applicants.

In order for any employer to justify the employment of an expatriate, it must prove that the said expatriate possesses exceptional skills which the employer failed to get from the local scene after making reasonable efforts.

Saintfeit does not have the exceptional skills and experience to justify appointment as a local coach ahead of local coaches. Even in Belgium, Saintfeit was only known as a soccer analyst on television, and is not a household name even in little Belgium.

Former Zimbabwe Player of the Year Cephas Chimedza, who has played in the Belgian Jupiler League for the past 6 years, professed ignorance of Tom Saintfeit before he was appointed as Warriors coach.

"Tom (Saintfeit) was a match analyst this side and he didnt coach any team in the highest division during my time here and most people I asked about him dont know him," Chimedza was responding to a question during interview with on 18 November.

An even embarrassing revelation was that the ZIFA 'appeal' was so deficient that it did not meet the requirements of an appeal.

According to the Zimbabwe Herald newspaper, a letter from the Office of the Principal Director of Immigra-tion Clemence Masango clarifies that what ZIFA called an appeal was infact, not an appeal.

"We received a letter dated 18th November 2010 from Maganga and Company legal practitioners on the afore-captioned matter (temporary employment permit for Tom Julianus Maria Saintfiet), " read part of the letter.

"Please be advised that we have noted the contents of the letter and contrary to your assertions that you have noted an appeal with this office, we do confirm that there was no such an appeal.

"The documents forwarded to this office purport to be additional information on a work permit application.

"The said application had since been declined as it failed to meet our requirements. Please be advised that there are no changed circumstances therefore the refusal of temporary employment permit still stands, the letter continued.

The only reasonable explanation that ZIFA might have for launching the so-called appeal could be that they wanted to prove that they have done everything possible to secure Saintfeit's work permit, in the event that the Begian sues them for breach of contract.

Now, whither do we go from here ZIFA?

The ZIFA President, Cuthbert Dube,who, as usual, is always ready with a solution to the media, confirmed that the appeal had been unsuccesful.

"I can confirm that indeed the application for a work permit for Tom Saintfiet has been declined," stated Dube.

The ZIFA boss boasted that his association has a Plan B in place.

"So we now have to go to our Plan B which was resolved by the board so we are starting the search now and we have no choice, but to turn to the locals, claimed Dube.

Dube continued with his well-received gospel of appointing a local coach and emphasised the need to grown our own timber.

"I think it should be a lesson for us to invest in our own whom we can even send for further training courses to Europe, the Zambians have been successfully doing that, Dube said.

While Dube's assertions are all good and impressive, it has become increasingly difficult to trust the veteran businessman's words and promises.

Of late the respected administrator has been flip-flopping in matters of national football governance, and has often been found to be speaking in off-tune to his own board.

If ZIFA opts to go local in their search for a substantive coach, what methods are they going to employ, and who are they likely to target should they choose to head hunt?

Time is running out for the national soccer mother body, we are in December already, and early next year the CHAN squad will leave for Sudan for the second edition of the CHAN finals. Head-hunting at this stage is the most reasonable way to go.

After the Dube led board's blundering for many months and toying with the botched appointment of a man who does not have what it takes to lead our Warriors, the nation can not afford to stomach any more shenanigans from ZIFA.

ZIFA has enough options locally to make a sound appointment.

First option at this stage should be Rahman Gumbo. The man has proved that he is one of the best coaching brains in Zimbabwe. He has won league titles at home, in Malawi and Botswana.

Gumbo, despite his blunders which led to his dismissal by a former ZIFA board, has grown in leaps and bounds as a coach. Besides, Gumbo is unlikely to divide the board's opinion because he is not part of this Saintfeit saga chapter which must end very soon.

Rahman's added advantage is that he is to be found just across the border, in Botswana, and it should not be difficult for a ZIFA that was prepared to pay Saintfeit $8000 per month to afford his salary.

Another good option is a man whose coaching education ZIFA has invested into in the past. Charles Mhlauri needs no introduction to the national team. He presided over a team that shocked Ghana 2-1 at the AFCON finals in Egypt in 2006.

Mhlauri, who is USA-based, has remained involved with soccer coaching, and there is every evidence to prove that he is a good coach and understands the Warriors set up perfectly.

The only challenge with Mhlauri is that apparently his family has moved to the USA and it could prove prove expensive to have them relocate home. But thats an assumption at this stage.

Mhlauri remains a patriotic Zimbabwean, and ZIFA will never know the true position unless they engage the coach.

Ofcourse, Norman Mapeza and Madinda Ndlovu, two coaches who were unfortunately caught-up in the ZIFA board turf wars remain good options.

Mapeza has now secured the minimum soccer coaching qualifications, and has now silenced those in the ZIFA board who frustrated his appointment, which must have resolved any problems if only common sense had prevailed.

Madinda Ndlovu who has proved to be popular within the ZIFA board, but unpopular with the fans, recently notched a good friendly result against Mozambique. He is a Warriors legend and a patriotic Zimbabwean who also deserves a chance to coach his motherland.

Ndlovu's critics are quick to point to the fact that he does not have anything to show that he is a good tactician who can take the Warriors to the desired heights.

Of the four best options ZIFA have, Ndlovu appears to have the weakest case. He has never won any competition

What Ndlovu's critics forget to realise is that some coaches strugge as club coaches and perform wonders at the helm of national teams. On the contrary, other coaches are better at day to day manaement of clubs, but struggle as national team coaches.

Gumbo and Mhlauri are leading contenders of the four possible options that ZIFA have. Local is the way to go.

If ZIFA does not settle for a local coach, then African coaches such as Stephen Keshi who once expressed interest in the job are better options than under-qualified and inexperienced European coaches like Saintfeit.   




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