Ethiopia appoints Tom Saintfiet as head coach

Addis Ababa – Ethiopia have appointed former Zimbabwe and Namibia manager Tom Saintfiet as coach in place of Briton Iffy Onuora, who was sacked last month on “disciplinary grounds”, according to Reuters report.

According to sports journalist Ermias Amare, Saintfiet has signed a “3-months contract” with the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF). He is expected to arrive here in the capital in the next 4 days.

The 38-year old Belgian, whose contract details were not disclosed by the Ethiopian Football Federation on Thursday, will take charge of the Horn of Africa nation when they meet Nigeria at home next month in an African Cup of Nations qualifier.

His predecessor Onuora was sacked just 10 months into his two-year contract.

Officials said they had taken into consideration Onuora’s sending-off against Madagascar in October, which led to him being banned for a game in Nigeria in March, and unflattering comments attributed to him by British tabloid newspapers.

Ethiopia, nicknamed the Walya Antelopes, are third in Nations Cup Group B, three points behind Nigeria and four behind surprise leaders Guinea.

Bio – (Wikipedia)

Tom Saintfiet (born 29 March 1973 in Mol, Belgium) was the Head coach of the Zimbabwe National Football Team from September – November 2010.

He played football between 1983 to 1997 before becoming a football manager at the age of 24, becoming the youngest manager in Belgian football.

Tom Saintfiet
Personal information
Full name Tom Saintfiet
Date of birth 29 March 1973 (age 38)
Place of birth Mol, Belgium
Playing position Midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps† (Gls)†
K.V.C. Westerlo
– K.F.C. Lommel S.K.
– K.F.C. Verbroedering Geel
Teams managed
1997-2001 Lower Belgian Divisions
2000 F.C. Satelitte Abidjan
2002-2003 B71 Sandur
2002-2003 Stormvogels Telstar
2003-2004 Al-Gharafa Sports Club
2004 Qatar U17
2005-2006 BV Cloppenburg
2006-2007 FC Emmen Technical Director
2008 RoPS
2008-2010 Namibia
2010 Zimbabwe
2010– Shabab Al-Ordon
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 2010. † Appearances (Goals).


Coaching career

Saintfiet has coached in several countries; Belgium, Qatar, Germany, Faroe Islands, Finland and Holland. He has also worked in Africa, becoming the Head Coach of Namibia and Zimbabwe. Before going to Namibia, Saintfiet was manager of Finnish Premier League club RoPS Rovaniemi. In 2002, Tom Saintfiet coached Faroese minnows B71 and finished second in the Faroe Islands First Division. He then went on to become coach at Al-Ittihad Sports Club of Qatar(now called Al-Gharafa Sports Club). In 2004 he Coached the Qatar U17 team to third place in the AFC Asian Championships and qualified for the U17 FIFA World Championships. Prior to FIFA World Cup 2010, Saintfiet was one of the candidates to lead the African Super Eagles, Nigeria, for the World Cup campaign in South Africa.


Saintfiet started very successfully with Namibia by beating Comoros and Malawi and playing a draw against Lesotho in the Cosafa Senior Challenge Cup inSouth Africa in July 2008. Namibia were eliminated from the Quarter Final at the hands of subsequent winner and host South Africa.[1] Saintfiet’s achievements included defeating Zimbabwe 4-2 in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier and Congo DR 4-0 in a friendly. Three days after drawing 1-1 away toLebanon on April 2009, Namibia once again got an impressive result with a 0-0 draw away to Angola. Arguably his most satisfying result came in Durban, when Namibia drew 1-1 with South Africa after leading for much of the game. Namibia had only won 1 game out of 12 in the months before Saintfiet’s arrival.[2] After these performances, the Namibian press nicknamed Saintfiet “The Saint[3] and one even newspaper called him “The Messiah”.[2]


After being heavily linked with the job, Sainfiet emerged successful through a shortlist of 15 candidates and signed a 4 year contract with ZIFA on 1 October 2010. In November, Zimbabwean immigration authorities refused to issue a work permit to the Warriors coach and Saintfiet was deported. The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) has appealed the decision taken by the department of immigration to turn down Saintfiet’swork permit application for national team coach and a decision will be announced shortly. On the 10th October, Zimbabwe played Cape Verde in Harare in a 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualification match, the game resulted in a 1-1 draw. Sainfiet had trained the squad prior to the match although he was made to leave the camp due to the issues regarding work permits. From his base in Namibia, Saintfiet, put in place the tactics and selected the National team squad that beat Mozambique 3-1 in the following match. After being refused a work permit by the immigration department for a second time, Saintfiet was forced to leave his role as Senior Men’s National Head Coach of Zimbabwe in October 2010.

Shabab Al Ordon

In late December 2010, Tom signed an 18 Month contract with 2007 AFC Cup winners, Shabab Al Ordon. Again working wonders with his defence organisation, his team has only conceded one goal in their first five matches with Saintfiet in charge.


Saintfiet holds the UEFA Pro Licence, which he achieved in 2000.

Between 2006 and 2007 he was Technical Director for FC Emmen (Dutch First Division) and also worked as an advisor for the Football Federation of Kazakhstan.

He has also worked as a TV football Analyst for Belgian, South African and Namibian Television and has worked as a translator for the DFB. He studied Sport psychology and Economic psychology.

Saintfiet speaks many languages and is fluent in Dutch, English, French, German, Faroese and has a basic knowledge of Arabic, Afrikaans and Spanish.

During FIFA World Cup 2010, Saintfiet wrote columns for the Belgian Media (Sport/Voetbal Magazine) and Japanese Media.

Managerial statistics

As of 21 November 2010

Nat Team From To Record
  B71 Sandoy 2002 2003 —
  Stormvogels Telstar 2002 2003 —
  Al-Gharafa Sports Club 2003 2004 —
  Qatar U17 2004 2004 —
  BV Cloppenburg 2005 2006 12 6 3 3 50.00
  FC Emmen 2006 2007 —
  RoPS 2008 2008 —
  Namibia 2008 2010 15 4 7 4 26.67
  Zimbabwe 2010 2010 —
  Shabab Al-Ordon 2010 5 3 2 0 60.00
Total 32 13 12 7 40.63


  • 2009 Runner-up Coach of the Year (Sports Awards 2009 Namibia Sport Commission)
  • 2008 Coach of the Year (The Namibian) & Most Famous Sport Celebrity (Informanté)
  • 2008-2010 15 Official FIFA-matches, Namibia climb 30 positions in FIFA World Rankings
  • 2008+2009 Quarter Final COSAFA Cup (South Africa)
  • 2005 Qualified for Semi-Final of the NFV-Cup (Germany)
  • 2005 Winner of the McDonald’s Cup (Germany)
  • 2004 3rd position (Bronze Medal) in the 2004 AFC U-17 Championship in Japan, September 2004. Qualified for the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship
  • 2002 2nd in the League and the Silver Medal (The Faroe Islands)



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