By Sulayman Bah
Gambia Football Federation does not have a track record of divulging salaries of managers attached to the senior national team being it local or foreign coach.
However, Foroyaa Sport endeavours to drop a hint or two bringing to the fore the figures Tom Saintfiet earned in his previous jobs to help in followers’ bid to forecast his salary range with Gambia’s Scorpions.
The 45-year-old is a globetrotting manager and a popular figure in the African game. His journey on the continent began in the year 2000 with Abidjan Satelitte before spells at the Faroe Island, Qatar, The Netherlands followed – returning to Africa only eight years later with the Namibian national squad.
Earning a special place in the hearts of Namibian sports fan for changing the fortunes of the Southern African country, Tom took up Zimbabwe’s offer where he was scheduled to go home with $8,000 per month.
His bond with the Zimbabwean FA ended in a divorce sealed in blood following his dramatic escape to the border after the landlocked country authorities threatened to deport him for working with their national team without permit.
FIFA later interfered into the case and the gaffer was paid out a whopping $182,000 though some reports quote the figure to be $150,000 for lasting only a day as Zimbabwe’s manager.
Stops in Jordan, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Yemen ensued. However, in Malawi, he made a demand of $10,000 as match bonus in his team’s crucial game against Nigeria. Tom argued that his predecessor went home with up to $20,000 but later dropped his request after facing pockets of criticisms in the media for it, suggesting instead the sum be given to charity.
The former footballer-turned coach faced his worst career defeat in 2016, losing five goals without a reply to Maldives while he was the tactician of Trinidad and Tobago but had a decent $10,000 pay to compliment things.
Overall, it means the foreign coach earned between $8,000 to $12,000 in his previous portfolios just about the same amount compatriot Paul Put raked up when he occupied Gambia’s managerial helm between 2008-2011.
To this day, he remains the most revered foreign gaffer and Tom will have a herculean task of surpassing this countryman’s exploits in Banjul.
Saintfiet, dubbed The Saint, will be unveiled to the media today at the Gambia Football Federation headquarters in Kanifing.
So Does He Have the Nerve for Controversy?
It’s said a coach unable to handle the ugly side of management wouldn’t last an hour in a team. Tom is not cut for controversy but has a nerve to handle one. Former Arsenal and Real Madrid goal-getter Emmanuel Adebayor is the biggest player he’s ever coached. His 14-month love-affair with Togo –whom he qualified for the Nations Cup –did not end without a furore.
First acting as an interim before taking up the coaching role on permanent basis, The Saint launched a scathing attack on Adebayor for coming into the national team camp late. To show he meant business, the Mol-born went ahead to strip the Togolese all-time goal-scorer the captaincy. Ade refused to play for his country later until the Belgian’s departure.
Gambia players do not have history of very public fall-outs with coaches, and, as a consequence the new man in charge isn’t expected to have qualms dealing with player-ego.
Tom will be speaking to the Gambian media today and worth mentioning is the near drama he had while being unveiled as coach of Trinidad and Tobago in 2016/17. The Caribbean nation football chairman in no unambiguous terms told this to Tom at his unveiling: ‘He (Tom) was not our first choice—for sure. Our first choice was way out of what we could have afforded. And I make no apologies for saying that. And I can tell you who our first choice was as well. Philippe Troussier. And Tom (Saintfiet) knows that.
‘I will also tell you this… if he (Tom) doesn’t get the job done on the 24 and 28 of March, he will be looking for a job. And I make no apologies for saying that. He is laughing but we’re very serious.
Because if we don’t get the job done on the 24th and 28th of March, we might as well kiss our campaign goodbye.’