Tom Saintfeit

Tom Saintfeit

Under pressure Tom Saintfeit has quit as coach of the Trinidad and Tobago national football team after less than a month in charge.

The bespectacled 43-year-old Belgian, who replaced longtime coach Stephen Hart in December of last year, had a brief but rocky stint in charge of the team, a stint punctuated by its failure to advance from the CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifiers last week.

Saintfiet was contracted to serve the team up to its next two CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers in March against Panama and Mexico. His boss, TTFA president David John Williams in introducing him last December not only said he was not the first choice applicant for the job but the affordable one had indicated those match results would determine his continuity in the job.

TT had also already lost its first two matches against Costa Rica and Honduras in the World Cup qualifiers that also feature the USA.

A unit shorn of players on contract to clubs in the USA’s MLS and Europe coached by Saintfeit failed to register a win in the three-team qualifier group, and were eliminated after suffering home losses to Suriname (2-1) and Haiti (4-3).

The coach’s reign had earlier begun in unglamorous fashion as TT were first beaten 2-1 in a December 27th friendly to Nicaragua in Nicaragua. The team won the second match 3-1 three days later, returning home to play the CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifiers.

The tenure of the coach was, however, also marred by several high-profile disputes with national players.  Saintfeit sent home Daneil Cyrus and Jomal Williams for arriving at the team’s training camp late, ahead of the qualifiers, saying they had alcohol on their breath. USA-based duo Joevin Jones and Kevin Molino were also excluded from the squad for what the coach described as a lack of interest.

The job was Saintfiet’s eighth  as national coach in eight years. He previously coached the national teams of Namibia (2008-2010), Zimbabwe (2010), Ethiopia (2011), Yemen (2012-2013), Malawi (2013), Togo (2015-2016) and Bangladesh (2016).