Signs two year contract with Young Africans

Less than three months after his four-year-contract was unceremoniously terminated before it even began by newly appointed Sports minister, Bolaji Abdullahi, Tom Saintfiet is enjoying a new lease of life at Tanzanian sports club, Young Africans.

The 39-year-old Belgian, who took charge at Young Africans early this month, expressed surprise at the rousing welcome he got on arrival? at the Nyerere International Airport on arrival, adding that he was looking forward to his first taste of African club football.?

“When I arrived at the airport, about 300 fans were there to welcome me, singing and dancing in club shirts and with flags,” Saintfiet, who has had three previous national team assignments with Namibia, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, said.

“In the afternoon, I had my first training, with more than 1,000 spectators at the training ground. I have never seen anything like it in my life. I have signed a two-year deal as coach of current East and Central African champions Young Africans in Tanzania.”

The move by Abdullahi to fire the Belgian elicited different responses from Nigerians, with some describing it as a surprise, and others lauding it.

Those who praised the minister for the move included two former national team coaches Adegboye Onigbinde and Joe Erico.

The duo said the decision of the minister was a step in the right direction, and berated the conception of the idea of hiring a foreign technical director, saying it was a slap on the face of several competent Nigerian coaches.

?The initiators of the idea are selfish because they are aware that several competent Nigerians coaches can do the job better,” said Onigbinde.

?What experience exactly does the foreign technical director have that Nigerian coaches do not have? It is an insult at this time that our country still believes very strongly in outsiders to do things for the country than the citizens. With the calibre of coaches we have now in the country, I think nobody is needed to come and develop our football for us.”

Other football aficionados who agreed with Onigbinde include Joe Erico, Sani Toro, Fabio Lanipekun, and former Super Eagles? Coach, Paul Hamilton.

Echoing the thoughts of the country’s football buffs, Lanipekun, a football analyst said: ?The law says that you cannot give a foreigner a job that a Nigerian can do; it is a very good decision because we have capable hands in Nigeria. And I am glad that we won?t have to give a foreigner a work permit to come and run our football without a clear understanding of our game.

?Every country has its own pattern of football and it is only a member of that country that can create a vision of the country?s football.”

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