With a vision of building one solid team before Bangladesh encounters Bhutan in in the Asian Cup Qualifier play-offs, Belgian Tom Sainfiet, possibly the new national team coach, started his six-day training camp with 29 players at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Saintfiet, who has yet to sign a contract with Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF), wasted no time to get to know his charges after he arrived in Dhaka early in the morning, the players as well as Saintfiet were to report to BFF headquarters by 11:30am but the 42-year-old opted to show up an hour and a half earlier than scheduled. Of the 32 players listed, three footballers– Nabib Newaj Jibon, Shahedul Alam Juniro and Monamem Khan Raju – did not report due sickness as well as personal matters.
Despite the dark cloud that now seems to loom over the issue of appointing the Belgian as the booter's boss, after his name was placed in a short-list of candidates for the post of Nigerian football team's head coach, both parties—BFF and Saintfiet—seem optimistic about signing a three-month contract within a few days and working together in the near future.
In an effort to clarify his position on the matter, after meeting with BFF president Kazi Salahuddin and vice president Kazi Nabil Ahmed who is also chairman of the national teams committee, Santfiet told reporters:
“I saw exactly what you saw. As a coach, I was without a job for the last two months. I sent my CV to different federations all over the world and Nigeria was one of them and on Friday I saw I was in the short-list but I don't have proper information about it. Even I don't have any information to compel me to go there for an interview.
When he asked about the possible contract with Bangladesh, the Belgian had this to say:
“I received the contract while I was in the plane yesterday [Monday]. I arrived here today [Tuesday] at 4:45am and haven't really looked at it yet. I will check it briefly then forward it to my lawyer and so within the coming days expect to finalise the deal.”
Though there may be ambiguity over the contract, it has been proven that there is no shortage of professionalism in Saintfiet as he took it upon himself to deliver a 15-minute motivational speech to the players during the introductory session at the BFF house yesterday.
Saintfiet also stressed the importance of discipline and requested his charges to be professional in order to achieve their goals.
“I have seen videos in Youtube and such, this team has potential, you guys can't believe how much. We need a team of players who want it. In football we don't win with the best performers but the best team. So discipline, occupation, ambition will be very important, not only skill but also personality and mentality. Sometimes a player with less quality and more discipline brings more success than the better player with lower discipline.”
Saintfiet then went on to add how he lives with great discipline.
“I'm disciplined. I'll give you an example, I'm not Muslim but I don't know the taste of beer, wine or any kind of alcohol and I never smoked in my life.
“For me, the name of the footballer is of little consequence. I am not here to create a famous player rather I am here just to create a single team that will get good results against Bhutan and also other games in the future,” Saitfiet warned the players adding that he may bring in new players to his Bhutan-bound squad after watching the upcoming Bangladesh Premier League.
Lastly, BFF vice president Kazi Nabil Ahmed stated that they expect to sign a three-month deal with Saintfiet, who is expected to leave on July 21 for a one-week vacation before returning to complete his contract, in the next three to four days.