Tom Saintfiet

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Tom Saintfiet
Personal information
Full name Tom Saintfiet
Date of birth (1973-03-29) 29 March 1973 (age 42)
Place of birth Mol, Belgium
Playing position Midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
K.V.C. Westerlo
K.F.C. Lommel S.K.
K.F.C. Verbroedering Geel
Teams managed
1997-2001 Lower Belgian Divisions
2000 Satelitte Abidjan
2002-2003 B71 Sandur
2002-2003 Stormvogels Telstar
2003-2004 Al-Gharafa
2004  Qatar
2005-2006 BV Cloppenburg
2006-2007 FC Emmen (Technical Director)
2008 RoPS
2008-2010  Namibia
2010  Zimbabwe
2010-2011 Shabab Al-Ordon
2011  Ethiopia
2012 Young Africans
2012-2013  Yemen
2013  Malawi
2014 Free State Stars
2015-  Togo
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only. † Appearances (Goals).

Tom Saintfiet (born 29 March 1973 in Mol, Belgium) is a Belgian association football manager and former player. He played football between 1983 to 1997 (FC Boom) before becoming a football manager at the age of 24, becoming the youngest manager in Belgian football.

Coaching career[edit]

Saintfiet has coached in several countries; Belgium, Qatar, Germany, Faroe Islands, Finland, Jordan, Tanzania and the Netherlands. He has also worked in Africa, becoming the Head Coach of Namibia, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. Before going to Namibia, Saintfiet was manager of Finnish Premier League club RoPS Rovaniemi. In 2002, Tom Saintfiet coached Faroese team B71 and finished second in the Faroe Islands First Division. He then went on to become coach at Al-Ittihad Sports Club of Qatar (now called Al-Gharafa Sports Club). In 2004 he Coached the Qatar U17 team to third place in the AFC Asian Championships and qualified for the U17 FIFA World Championships. Prior to FIFA World Cup 2010, Saintfiet was one of the candidates to lead the African Super Eagles, Nigeria, for the World Cup campaign in South Africa.


Saintfiet started very successfully with Namibia by beating Comoros and Malawi and playing a draw against Lesotho in the Cosafa Senior Challenge Cup in South Africa in July 2008. Namibia were eliminated from the Quarter Final at the hands of subsequent winner and host South Africa. Saintfiet's achievements included defeating Zimbabwe 4-2 in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier and Congo DR 4-0 in a friendly. Three days after drawing 1-1 away to Lebanon on April 2009, Namibia once again got an impressive result with a 0-0 draw away to Angola. Arguably his most satisfying result came in Durban, when Namibia drew 1-1 with South Africa after leading for much of the game. Namibia had only won 1 game out of 12 in the months before Saintfiet's arrival. Under Saintfiet's leadership, Namibia rose 34 places in the FIFA rankings to the highest position they had achieved in the last 10 years. After these performances, the Namibian press nicknamed Saintfiet "The Saint" and one even newspaper called him "The Messiah"


After being heavily linked with the job, Sainfiet emerged successful through a shortlist of 15 candidates and signed a 4-year contract with ZIFA on 1 October 2010. In November, Zimbabwean immigration authorities refused to issue a work permit to the Warriors coach and Saintfiet was deported. The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) has appealed the decision taken by the department of immigration to turn down Saintfiet's work permit application for national team coach and a decision will be announced shortly. On 10 October, Zimbabwe played Cape Verde in Harare in a 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualification match, the game resulted in a 1-1 draw. Sainfiet had trained the squad prior to the match although he was made to leave the camp due to the issues regarding work permits. From his base in Namibia, Saintfiet, put in place the tactics and selected the National team squad that beat Mozambique 3-1 in the following match. After being refused a work permit by the immigration department for a second time, Saintfiet was forced to leave his role as Senior Men's National Head Coach of Zimbabwe in October 2010.

Shabab Al Ordon[edit]

In late December 2010, Saintfiet signed a 4 Month contract with 2007 AFC Cup winners, Shabab Al Ordon. Again working wonders with his defence organisation, his team only conceded one goal in their first five matches with Saintfiet in charge.


Saintfiet was named Head Coach of Ethiopia in late May 2011. Within 10 days of taking over, Saintfiet guided Ethiopia, composed of local players, to a 2-2 draw against African giants Nigeria in the 2012 AFCON qualifiers. In a full Addis Ababa Stadium, fans watched Ethiopia take the lead for most of the game, only for Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo to score late on to rescue a point. Saintfiet voluntarily resigned his position as Head coach on 28 October 2011.

Nigeria (Controversy)[edit]

In March 2012, Saintfiet was appointed as the technical director of Nigeria by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).[1] However, the Nigerian ministry of sports hinted three months later that there were many competent Nigerians and preferred a Nigerian instead of a foreign technical director.

Young Africans SC[edit]

In July 2012, Saintfiet took charge of Tanzania club Young Africans SC. Saintfiet immediately guided the club to win the 2012 CECAFA Club Cup/Kagame Interclub Cup, the first time the club had won this Champions League of East and Central Africa title in consecutive years. He was however let go in September after two league games after a disagreement with the club board[2]


On 3 July 2013, Saintfiet took over as the head coach of Malawi national football team on a two month deal.[3]

In April 2014 it was announced that he was part of an 8-man shortlist to replace Eric Nshimiyimana as Rwanda manager.[4]

Free State Stars[edit]

On 2 July 2014, he was named the head coach of South African side Free State Stars.[5] He was sacked in November 2014 after poor results.


Saintfiet signed for three yearsTogo in May 2015. [1]


References and notes[edit]

  1. ^
  2. ^ Saintfiet is upset over his sacking by Yanga
  3. ^ Ngonamo demoted as Malawi appoint new coach, 3 July 2013
  4. ^ Andrew Jackson Oryada (25 April 2014). "Ratomir Dujkovic on shortlist for Rwanda coach position". BBC Sport. Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  5. ^ "Saintfeit named new Stars head coach". Free State Stars F.C. 2 July 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014.