Trinidad and Tobago appoints Saintfiet as national team coach

Tom Saintfiet Yemen 010913
The federation has hired the Belgian to replace Stephen Hart after the senior team’s two losses to begin the Hexagonal round of CONCACAF qualifying.

Trinidad and Tobago has hired Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet as its new head coach, the federation announced Wednesday.

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Saintfiet replaces Stephen Hart, who guided the Soca Warriors to quarterfinal finishes in both the 2013 and 2015 Gold Cups and to the final round of 2018 World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF, but was fired after a pair of losses to begin the Hexagonal.

Those losses, at home against Costa Rica and on the road in Honduras, left Trinidad and Tobago in fifth place out of six, ahead of just the United States on goal difference.

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Saintfiet will have to navigate his side through the Gold Cup playoff, which will take place in Trinidad, in early January against Haiti and Suriname, with the group winner qualifying for the tournament which will take place in June 2017.

But the matches that will likely decide Saintfiet’s time as Soca Warriors boss are the World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Mexico in March. Both matches are at home, and losses in those two contests would likely end the country’s dream of making its second-ever World Cup appearance, after qualifying in 2006.

"If he doesn't get the results we need in those two matches then he could find himself out of a job since we can kiss our World Cup bid goodbye if we don't get those results," Trinidad and Tobago federation president David John Williams said Wednesday.

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Saintfiet, 43, has previously been the head coach of Ethiopia, Nambia, Zimbabwe, Togo, Yemen and Bangladesh.

The federation also named a head coach for the women’s senior team, appointing Italian Carolina Morace to the role.

Morace has previously served as the head coach of the Italian women’s national team and the Canadian women’s national team. She also coached men’s side Viterbase in Serie C back in 1999.