New Trinidad & Tobago head coach Tom Saintfiet (left) speaks to the media at his introductory press conference on December 7, 2016, in Port of Spain. (Photo courtesy of Trinidad & Tobago Football Association)
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago – New Trinidad & Tobago head coach Tom Saintfiet will have to hit the ground running with the Soca Warriors involved in a pair of important competitions in the first half of 2017.
The 43-year-old will first have to navigate his new squad through a three-team playoff to determine which Caribbean side will face Copa Centroamericana’s fifth-place finisher in a two-legged for the last berth in the 2017 CONCACAF God Cup.
Then, T&T’s qualifying campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup will resume with home matches in March against Panama and Mexico.
It’s a full plate, but Saintfiet says he’s ready for the challenge.
“Being here in Trinidad is a pleasure,” expressed the former Togo manager. “To Coach a team that has pedigree in football and that has been to the World Cup in the past is a privilege for me. This is a football country with huge history and I am eagerly looking forward to help this country qualify for two tournaments in 2017.
“Firstly, my goal is to get Trinidad and Tobago to the CONCACAF Gold Cup and to get to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.”
Saintfiet, who guided Qatar to the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Cup, believes in the quality of talent available to him and plans to have a close look at the domestic-based players.
“The Caribbean Cup, fifth-place playoff matches [are] an opportunity to work with the local players and see what they can offer when the World Cup Qualifiers come around in March against Panama and Mexico,” he commented. “I am looking forward to see their ability and I am confident they do their best. I also vow to do my part to prepare them physically and mentally for these games. I am a result-oriented coach. We need to win and once we get wins under our belt, this builds momentum for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.”
Trinidad & Tobago Football Association President David John-Williams is positive that the right man has been brought on board to make next year a memorable one.
“Tom came to us very highly recommended,” said John-Williams. “I believe that he has the capability to take Trinidad & Tobago’s football forward. If you look at his experience in the game, he certainly has that edge over other coaches and we are confident he can help deliver back the glory for our nation.”