Shaka Hislop tweeted that he didn't know whether to laugh or cry about the state of Trinidad & Tobago, then added, "I've had hangovers that lasted longer than Saintfiet." That would have been a pretty long hangover, but Hislop, the former T&T goalkeeper who now works as an ESPN analyst, makes his point about Belgian Tom Saintfiet, who lasted all of five weeks as T&T head coach.
Saintfiet was named as T&T coach in December to replace Stephen Hart after the Soca Warriors -- like the USA -- opened the Hexagonal with two straight losses. But he resigned on Tuesday, two days after a 4-3 overtime loss to Haiti knocked them out of contention for the 2017 Gold Cup.
In an email sent Wednesday morning, Saintfiet issued the following statement:
"I would like to inform you all that I have decided to resign, today Tuesday 10 January 2017 as National Team Coach of Trinidad & Tobago.
"Given the mandate to guide the team past Panama and Mexico in the coming World Cup qualifiers of March 2017, I have come to the conclusion that I can’t be successful in this environment.
"From the first day of my unveiling, I did not get the support of the TTFA and its President; support which is needed to be able to do my job in a professional and successful way.
"I never got the chance to work with the players nor staff requested.
"Perhaps I should have taken this decision right from day one of my appointment after the President openly second guessed his own choice of employing me but I gave him and the TTFA the benefit of the doubt.
"It was an honour and privilege to work for a beautiful nation like Trinidad & Tobago and I wish the players, staff, TTFA, fans and the whole football family the very best."
The move was no surprise: T&T lost three of four games in the last two weeks, and Saintfiet battled with many of his star players, not to mention local club officials.
T&T's problems did not just extend to the Hexagonal. The Soca Warriors failed to win their Gold Cup qualifying group, requiring them to play in a playoff in January when some foreign-based players were unavailable or MLS players were coming off offseason vacations.
Saintfiet was the default choice for the job as the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association reportedly couldn't afford Frenchman Philippe Troussier's salary terms, and the TTFA technical committee that was working on the coaching hire -- via Google -- questioned whether the other candidates, Colombians Luis Suarez and Eduardo Lara, spoke English.
TTFA president David John-Williams wasn't exactly enthusiastic about the pick, stating at the press conference to announce the hiring that Saintfiet would be fired if "he doesn’t get the job done" at the March Hexagonal qualifiers against Panama and Mexico.
"He is laughing," said Williams, "but we’re very serious."
Assistants Russell Latapy and Jamaal Shabazz are candidates to replace Saintfiet.