Experienced Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet arrived in Dhaka on Thursday hoping to take the charge of the Bangladesh national football team after the post of its coach fell vacant this month.
The position of the national football coach fell vacant as the Bangladesh Football Federation did not extend the contract of Dutch coach Lodewijk de Kruif, who was exclusively appointed for the two play-off matches of the Asian Cup qualification round against Tajikistan.
The 43-year-old Saintfiet, who coached Togo national team in his last assignment, also has the experience of guiding African countries like Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Malawi.
Saintfiet, a UEFA pro licensed coach, was also at the helm of Qatar Under-17 side in 2004 and Yemen national football team in 2013 and 2014.
Officials said Saintfiet contacted them through a friend of BFF president Kazi Salahuddin and met him at his office in the afternoon hours after his arrival.
Even though Saintfiet is yet to get any formal offer from the BFF he claimed that he has a huge knowledge on Bangladesh football.
‘I follow Bangladesh football since 2004 when I was in Japan in the AFC U-17 Championship where Bangladesh also took part in that tournament,’ Saintfiet told reports at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
‘Since then, I followed them and followed the results of coaches like Lodewijk de Kruif, Edson Silva Dido.’
Saintfiet came to BNS to watch the Federation Cup semi-final between Arambagh Krira Sangha and Team BJMC and took a firsthand experience of Bangladesh football.
‘It is too early to say anything,’ Saintfiet said regarding his possible involvement with Bangladesh team. ‘I am an experienced football coach and I like Bangladesh football and that’s why I am here. At the moment, the option is open and there is no guarantee.’
Saintfiet also wished to bring Bangladesh football back on track provided he is given an opportunity as he noticed that the country has potential to do better than what it has done.
‘There are several reasons I have to wish to become the coach of Bangladesh. Bangladesh has much, more potential to show and the last results of Bangladesh in regional competition may be not good as the 2003 SAFF Champions,’ he said.
‘The results of 2010 and 2012 were also not good. But Bangladesh has quality. I would like to come here to change the team and bring some good results as well as qualify for the Asian Cup Qualifiers.’
Bangladesh’s next international assignment is against Bhutan in the Asian Cup play-off on September 6 and October 11. If they fail to overcome the hurdle of Bhutan they are unlikely get any international match for a long period.
-With New Age input