No permanent enemy in sport! Nigeria on Friday named Belgian coach, Tom Saintfeit as one of the three candidates vying to become the head of the technical crew of the Super Eagles, the country’s senior national team. Also in contention for the post, according to the NFF chairman of the technical and development committee, Chris Green, are Frenchman Paul Le Guen and indigenous Salisu Yusuf.
Then as coach of Malawi, Saintfeit had dragged former Super Eagles’s head coach, the late Stephen Keshi, to FIFA over an alleged racial abuse.
Saintfeit raised the alarm on security in Calabar ahead of a September 7 2013 World Cup Cup qualifier against Malawi in which Nigeria assured FIFA of safety, mentioning that
police escorts and bomb squads would be deployed to ensure safety in Calabar, forcing Saintfeit to refer to British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advisory that described Calabar as a no-travel area because of fears of terrorism and violent crime.
He added that if Calabar was safe, Nigeria needed not make assurances to FIFA.
Keshi did not take kindly to this and lashed. ‘‘If he wants to talk to FIFA, he should go back to Belgium. He is not an African person, he is a white dude. … He is mad. I wish I could say it to his face.”
Eventually, Keshi and Saintfeit embraced after the match and this could be a soft-landing for Saintfeit as he hopes to land the Eagles’ job. He has previously worked for Namibia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and Togo.
Le Guen coached Cameroun and led them to the 2010 World Cup while there has been a formidable group of advocates for Yusuf who as an interim coach, led the Eagles wins over Mali and Luxemburgo two months ago.
The trio will be interviewed on 18 July and the successful handler is expected to be named same day.