Saintfiet leaves Malawi ‘a sad man’, returns to Belgium

Former Flames voluntary coach Tom Saintfiet left Malawi on Wednesday for his home nation Belgium after a controversial short-term contract with Football Association of Malawi (FAM).

Saintfiet left through Chileka Airport at around 14 hours through aboard African Airways.

He said  he was leaving the southern African nation a “sad man” after  failing to guide Malawi into 2014 Brazil World Cup.

“Iam leaving a sad man because of failing to  beat Nigeria. I also fallen in love with Malawi and the people, It is very sad to leave but l do not have a choice,” Saintfeit told Nyasa Times before boarding a Kenyan Airways.

Fam General Secretary Suzgo Nyirenda confirmed of the coach’s departure.

Saintfiet: Gone!

Saintfiet: Gone!

“He is gone to his home country that’s it,” said Nyirenda.

“ He had a return air ticket which he bought when coming to Malawi,” Nyirenda added.

The Belgium coach was engaged by Fam in July under controversial circumstances to help Malawi overcome Africa giants Nigeria in a crucial World Cup qualifier on Saturday.

Bu the Super Eagles won 2-0 to shatter the Flames dreams of the Brazil World Cup tournament next year.

Football fans and players took Fam to task for dangling US$10,000 bonus should he had managed to beat Nigeria.

But the Belgium withdrew the bonus demand after succumbing to pressure.

The coach  quit the Flames after the loss to Nigeria saying he was engaged particulary for the game.

“I never was here to win many games. I was here to win one game (on Saturday) against Nigeria and that was the only goal,” Saintfiet said at the post-match news  conference.

He was however not open when queried about his next move.

“I don’t feel any pressure because (the Football Association of Malawi) had an agreement till midnight on Saturday.

“From Sunday morning, I have no agreement with the federation and that was clear so I am a professional coach and my future? That we will see in the coming weeks but I am not worried about that,” he said.

He led the team in five games with four losses and one draw.

The 40-year-old Saintfiet, who has coached in Africa with Namibia, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, said he volunteered his services to Malawi for free.

FAM officials said the preference is for a local head coach  but they are ‘keeping an open mind’.

The Flames has no coach following the expiry contract of Edington Ng’onamo and Patrick Mabedi.

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