Tom Saintfiet: “EFF Had No Belief In Team”

Tom Saintfie EFFBy Zecharias Zelale,

Former Ethiopian national team manager Tom Saintfiet says the Ethiopian Football Federation gawked at his long term plans for the Walyas. According to the Belgian national, Ethiopia’s football officials didn’t share the same ambition, drive and passion as he did. Having worked in the country for a few months, Saintfiet, recently released from his post at South African side Free State Stars, saw the ability to create a decent side capable of reaching the African Cup of Nations and even the FIFA World Cup within several years. Having shown the blueprint of his plans to his bosses at the EFF, he says the reaction he received was lukewarm and not what he expected.

“They simply didn’t think it was possible,” Saintfiet told “It appeared to be unrealistic in their eyes. But I saw promise, I felt very confident that my group of boys could achieve big things if I was given the green light. Unfortunately, I was never given the chance.”

Saintfiet left his post after six months despite praiseworthy performances by the Walyas during his short tenure. His assistant, Sewnet Bishaw was hired and he famously guided the Walyas to both their first AFCON tournament in 31 years and the brink of the 2014 World Cup.

“I had an idea they were going to hire a local coach and of course suspected Sewnet. I’m glad to have seen the Walyas succeed under him. I’m a professional, I harbour no resent towards Sewnet our relationship was always a great one.”

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