Technical Director Muhammad Isa has come out in defence of new coach Tom Saintfier, saying he is the best man for the job of taking T&T to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and beyond.
Yesterday he lashed out at critics of the coach's resume by sending a message that the Belgian is more qualified than all the local coaches here in T&T, including Stephen Hart, who was sacked for a string of poor results in the hexagonal stage of the qualifiers.
Isa, who took over as technical director from Kendal Walkes who was also fired from his job, explained that Saintfiet is also well equipped to coach at any big team in Europe and the rest of the world.
The 43-year old Belgian is the holder of a Pro License and has a degree in sports psychology with specialialisation in sports and business psychology. Saintfiet who has had a short career in football that ended due to injuries, also has a degree in physical coaching and skill develoment, which according to Isa, will be assets needeed to coach at top clubs in Europe.
He believes these assets will serve the Belgian well in dealing with the players ahead of the qualifiers.
"I think people have been wrongly criticising the coach without giving him the opportunity to prove himself. He is highly qualified and I think he knows exactly what's is required of him" Isa explained.
Quizzed on his qualifications compared to the other applicants, Isa said he provided a better package than the rest of coaches. "It wsa not only about him being affordable but when we looked at what he had, in terms of qualifications, he was definitely the best man for the job."
He told the Trinidad Guardian the T&T Football Association's first choice in the four-man shortlist, Frenchman Phillippe Troussier had asked for a whopping US$100, 000 monthly which they could not afford. "From the other two- Colombian Luis Fernando Suarez and Ecuadorian Eduardo Lara, one could not speak english and the other was not available. It is understood that among the applicants for the job were ex TT captain David Nakhid, Terry Fenwick and Dwight Yorke.
He admitted Saintfiet does not have a record like former national coach, Dutchman Leo Beenhakker, but pointed out that at 43 years the coach could be well poised to make a name for himself.
"He was offered the coaching job in Nigeria and did not pick it up because of a last-minute decision to use a local coach. I can assure that if Saintfiet is successful here in T&T, we wil not be able to hold on to him because his price tag will increase drastically."
Saintfiet's first major assignment will be two international friendly matches against Nicaragua on December 27th and 30th in Nicaragua. The team is likely to be a blend of foreign based stars and locals as Saintfiet has already secured the services of Aubrey David, Carlyle Mitchell, Sheldon Bateau, Cordell Cato, Jomal Williams and Shahdon Winchester.
He has since been on the search for the best local players to make up the team.