Saintfiet circus continues

Harare – Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet could need the goodwill of his Namibian employers, whom he infuriated by dumping in shameless fashion, if he is to get a work permit that he needs to start working as the coach of the Zimbabwe Warriors. Saintfiet has been marooned in Botswana, since being ordered out of Zimbabwe two weeks ago, waiting for the application of his work permit to enable him to assume his duties as the Zimbabwe coach. But it has turned out that the process, to get him a work permit, might not be as easy as it appeared at the very beginning and, interestingly, Saintfiet might need a helping hand from his former employers in Namibia for him to strike his deal. The Belgian coach angered the Namibia Football Association by going behind their back, in his secret negotiations with the Zimbabwe Football Association technical committee, and then issuing disparaging remarks about the status of the game in Namibia. The Namibians claim that Saintfiet was not focused ahead of the Brave Warriors’ first Nations Cup game against Gambia in Banjul, which they lost 1-3, because of his secret negotiations with the Zimbabweans. The Namibian Football Association leadership have also not taken kindly to remarks by Saintfiet that they were not focused on qualifying for the 2012 Nations Cup finals and even labeled the Zifa management as a group of fools who did not know how to handle professional matters. Now, as fate might have it, both Zifa and Saintfiet will now require the helping hand of the Namibians – whom they angered with their clandestine actions – if the coach is to get a work permit. The Southern Times was advised last week that the Department of Immigration in Zimbabwe has already advised Zifa president Cuthbert Dube that they require a letter, from the Namibian Football Association, confirming the termination of their contract with Saintfiet as part of the process to deal with his application for a Zimbabwean work permit. “The Department of Immigration have listed a number of things that need to be sorted out by Zifa to enable the processing of their application for Tom Saintfiet to be granted a work permit,” sources told The Southern Times last week. “One of the key issues is the confirmation, by the Namibian Football Association, that their contract with Saintfiet was terminated and the circumstances surrounding that termination, if indeed, that is what happened. “Now that throws an interesting angle to the whole thing because it means that Zifa will have to go back to the Namibians for a helping hand but, given the frosty relations between the two bodies after the Saintfiet controversy, it is going to be interesting. “The Namibians have already described Zifa as a group of fools and that is very strong language and, in any case, you tend to wonder how such two opposing football bodies can work together given the acrimony that seems to exist between them right now.” The Namibians also claim that there are also a number of contractual issues that need to be sorted out, given that Saintfiet still had a running contract with them, and that could also put some spanner into the works. THE NFA Secretary General Barry Rukoro was quoted by Namibian media this week as saying neither Saintfiet nor ZIFA had conacted them for a letter yet.  The Namibian Football Association has said it expects to be compensated for its losses, given that its contracted employee was poached, behind their back, before the end of his tenure. There is also the pending Fifa case with the Namibians hinting that they intend to report the Zifa leadership to the world football controlling body for tapping because they went ahead and engaged their coach without their knowledge or approval. “What this means is that there are a lot of technical and legal issues that will rumble on, for some time, before this matter is settled and the Namibians are not in a hurry because they believe that they are the victims in this case who have lost their coach and also lost their integrity through the stories where the coach attacked them,” said the sources. “What is clear is they could sit and wait for the logical conclusion of this case before they can put pen to paper to close the chapter and issue the letter of termination of contract. “Should that happen, it will leave Tom in a difficult situation because his application in Zimbabwe would not be processed and he can’t go back to Namibia right now and be the their coach again given what has happened in the past few weeks. “So we have a situation where Zifa, who never wrote to the Namibians telling them that they wanted to discuss the possibility of employing their coach, now being forced to write asking for a helping hand and there is nothing as humiliating as that.”

October 2010
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