Bangladesh's newly-appointed head coach Tom Saintfiet wants to place utmost emphasis on team discipline and spirit as he conducted his first training session on Tuesday to start his temporary three-month charge. The Belgian tactician arrived in Dhaka on Tuesday morning.
The official signing between Saintfiet and the Bangladesh Football Federation has not been made yet but both the parties are hoping to complete the formalities in “three-four days' time”.
About the contract and Nigeria issue
"He just arrived. He was on the plane when we sent him the contract papers. He forwarded it to his lawyer. Hopefully we can close this chapter (official signing) in three-four days," said national team management committee chairman Kazi Nabil Ahmed on Tuesday.
Nabil added, “He is taking charge, starting from today, for three months.”
Last week, Nigeria drafted a three-man shortlist for the vacant manager/head coach's position, and Saintfiet is one of their preferred choices but the 43-year old coach wants to concentrate on Bangladesh only.
When queried to clarify the current situation with the Nigeria Football Association, the Belgian coach said, “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 were one of them. On Friday, I saw I was in the shortlist but I don't have proper information about it (regarding interview with NFA).
“The first focus is on two (AFC Asian Cup qualifying playoff) matches against Bhutan in September and October. When the matches are finished, hopefully with the qualification, we will work together in future. First focus is on three months and to try to get good results.”
About his philosophy and the Bangladesh team
Saintfiet has vast experience in coaching, especially in African football. He managed six national teams before coming to Dhaka. The Belgian believes Bangladesh have more potential than their performances suggest in recent years.
“I have seen videos in youtube. And DVDs of this team. This team has potential. We need a team of players who want it. In football, we don't win with best players. Rather it is the best team who wins. So discipline, occupation, ambition will be very important, not only skill but personality, mentality. Sometimes a player with less quality brings success compared to a player with better quality but low discipline,” he said.
“I'm disciplined. I give you an example. I am not muslim but I don't know the taste of beer, wine or any kind of alcohol. I never smoked in my life,” he added.
Tom though expressed his optimism regarding Bangladesh's immediate future. “If we win against Bhutan, we will have a 50 percent chance of qualifying for the Asian Cup in the UAE. It's a great opportunity for the coach, the players and the federation,” he said.
Tom recently sent a 32-man preliminary squad for the upcoming home and away ties against Bhutan. Following the ongoing national camp, he will go on a short vacation for a week. After his return, he will watch some premier league matches and shuffle the preliminary squad further.
“I could only see the four teams' players, so I could not pick all the players. I only picked 12 players and the rest were added by my assistant coach [Saiful Bari] Titu. In the coming weeks, there will be matches of the league. And based on that, new players may be added for the Bhutan matches,” he concluded.