Saintfiet needs to keep it zipped


I'm not really going out on a limb here when I say "hell hath no fury like a coach scorned."

Yes, I'm talking about Malawi coach Tom Saintfiet who desperately wants to get one over on Nigeria, and has the chance when the Flames take on Nigeria in the World Cup qualifiers on 6 September.

He was passed over for the job as Nigerian Technical Director.
 
Lets recap. The NFF offered the Belgian a four-year deal in March last year and in a communiqué signed by its executive committee member Emeka Inyama, said Saintfiet was to earn a monthly salary of US$20,000.

Then Nigerian sports minister Bolaji Abdullahi told football authorities to revoke this agreement.

This is where things started to get messy.

NFF chief Aminu Maigari said there was no job for Saintfiet.

"Mr Saintfiet came for an interview as the technical director but he never signed any contractual agreement with the Nigeria Football Federation," Maigari told BBC Sport.

"He chose to talk to the media, but we have more important things to do than engage him in a war of wits."

When he was reminded that the football house issued a communiqué to announce his appointment, Maigari replied: "A communiqué is not an agreement nor binding contract.

"A contract has not been granted. How can you claim to have a job when nothing was agreed or signed on paper? We do not have any agreement or whatsoever with him."

Saintfiet then threatened to report the NFF to football's world governing body Fifa for going back on what he called a gentleman's agreement.

Naturally angry and disappointed, Saintfiet said he was considering legal action against the NFF. Perhaps he should have known better than to rely on a gentleman's agreement with the NFF.

Nonetheless Maigari again came out swinging, advising the Belgian to stop damaging his reputation before potential employers.

"Fifa are serious-minded people and we are not overly concerned about his threat to go there," said Maigari. "Fifa will demand a contract or agreement from him, so we await his presentation in Zurich.

"We need to let him understand that his utterances and accusations will only make him look bad before those interested in giving him a job.

"Mr Saintfiet should think and focus on his future elsewhere, instead of making unfounded allegations."

Perhaps Saintfiet thinks he has the Super Eagles number.In May 2011 he became head coach of Ethiopia and within just 10 days inspired Ethiopia, composed of local players, to a 2-2 draw against 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. Home based or not, Ethiopia are a cut above Malawi.

This summer Saintfiet had the opportunity to put himself in a position to pit his wits against Nigeria again and get some measure of satisfaction into the bargain.

He offered to coach Malawi for free, with a $10,000 win bonus all that he wanted for getting the Flames through to the next World Cup round.

"For me money is not the motivation," he said. "I came here as a volunteer. I want to bring Malawian football to the next level and try to qualify them for the World Cup. I think if we win the money must go to youth development."

FAM president Walter Nyamilandu believes Saintfiet's biggest motivation is to make a name for himself.

"Reading between the lines, for him if we beat Nigeria his name is going to be all over the world and I think that is his motive that is his driving force," said Nyamilandu.

The demand for the bonus has since been dropped after it was received with mixed reactions, with one fan going to court to seek an injunction against Saintfiet, although he failed because he was told he was not an interested party.

There is no doubt that as the game creeps ever closer things will get more niggly between the Belgian and NFF.

Perhaps the last word on Saintfiet belongs to Stephen Keshi.

"This (Calabar) is where we play our games and other countries are fine with that, someone cannot say to Nigeria to take the game elsewhere because he feels too important."
 
"Please tell him [Saintfiet] the game will take place in Calabar, he can choose not to come, we have no problem with that."

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