National football coach resigns

Just thirty-five days after assuming the post of coach of the national football team, Tom Saintfiet has resigned.

In an email statement that has gone viral on social media, Saintfiet said he realised that he cannot be successful in this environment.

"Given the mandate to past Panama and Mexico in the coming qualifiers for World Cup in March 2017, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot be successful in this environment," he wrote.

The email was apparently sent to foreign coaches who have been sharing it on social media. In a statement, the TTFA confirmed that Saintfiet issued a letter of resignation as head coach of the National Men’s Senior Team to TTFA President David John-Williams on Tuesday night. 

In his letter, Saintfiet revealed that his relationship with Williams, head of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), was strained.

"From the first day of unveiling, I did not get the support of the TTFA and its President, support which is needed to do my job in a professional and successful way. I never got the chance to work with the players or staff requested," he said.

Saintfiet said he should have taken his decision after Williams second guessed his appointment shortly after hiring him but he gave him and the TTFA the benefit of the doubt, 

The Belgian replaced former coach Stephen Hart in November.

In response, the TTFA said the President referred Saintfiet's letter to the Technical Committee of the TTFA and the Committee recommended that Saintfiet’s resignation be accepted and be ratified by the TTFA board

"The Technical Committee has advised that a replacement for the post of Men’s Senior Team Head Coach will be found in the shortest possible time and the TTFA will make an announcement on this in due course. The TTFA wishes to thank Mr Saintfiet for his efforts over the period he served as Head Coach of our National Men’s Senior Team and takes this opportunity to wish him well in his future endeavours," the TTFA said.

Saintfiet’s reign started with a 2-1 defeat against Nicaragua just after Christmas, but his team rebounded with a 3-1 victory against the same opposition three days later.

His first international test was the CFU Gold Cup 5th place qualifiers played last week at the Ato Boldon Stadium.

Trinidad and Tobago lost to Suriname and Haiti in extra-time and failed to move forward in the tournament.

Saintfiet’s short reign was marked by pessimism over his lack of extensive coaching experience and his disciplinarian approach.

He dropped skipper Kenwyne Jones and also sent home Jomal Williams and Daniel Cyrus from a team camp in January, after both players got to the team hotel late, allegedly showing evidence of alcohol consumption.

MLS Cup winner Joevin Jones did not show up for the team camp after Saintfiet claimed that the player had said to him he would attend. 

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