Seven years after missing out on the chance of becoming the head coach of the senior national team of Nigeria Belgium tactician Tom Saintfiet is the front runner to be the new coach of the Nigerian team, OwnGoalNigeria.com can exclusively reveal.
Seven years ago he claimed he was picked as the coach of the team by the Technical Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), but the then president of the NFF Amaju Pinnick turned his recommendation down and instead went for Paul Le Guen who rejected the job.
“Yes, in 2012 first of all, the minister of sports decided he wanted a local coach when I was already announced as the new technical adviser chosen by the technical committee at that time, which had (Austin) Okocha, Garba Lawal and Christopher Green. Again in 2016, I was close to the job, I was to get the job with the local coach Salisu Yusuf, but they chose Paul Le Guen for the job.
“He refused and it would have been normal that I would have been there with Yusuf. I considered myself as the second or third choice, but it was Amaju Pinnick who didn’t follow the technical committee’s decision and went for Gernot Rohr, who was not shortlisted; it was a big disappointment”* he told the online edition of Punch Newspaper in an interview in April this year.
With growing doubts over the future of head coach Jose Peseiro, Saintfeit is the front runner to be coach of the team in the event of his departure.
We exclusively gathered that he has been sounded out and he is sold out to the idea of leaving Gambia, a team he led to the quarter final of the last Africa Cup of Nations after four years at the helm.
President of the NFF Ibrahim Musa Gusau has given his seal of approval for the coach who is in the running for the CAF coach of the year award, and has already told senior players of the team his plans for the Belgian to replace Peseiro.
Saintfeit will cost a lot cheaper than the $60,000 current coach Peseiro earns, but we are made to understand that he isn’t the only foreign coach eyeing the role of Peseiro which could be vacant after the Africa Cup of Nations, unless Peseiro gets to the final of the tournament.