HARARE, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Belgian Tom Saintfiet, who
signed a four-year contract to coach Zimbabwe in August,
appears set to lose his post in a country he was forced to flee
three days into the job after he failed in his bid to obtain a
On Friday, the Zimbabwe Football Association confirmed the
37-year-old had been refused a work permit after several weeks
waiting for word on his application.
Despite the setback, the organisation's chief executive
officer Jonathan Mashingaidze said he would look to re-apply to
Zimbabwe's immigration officials in the coming weeks.
"We have contract with him we need to honour," he told
Saintfiet had resigned as coach of Namibia to take up the
higher profile position in Zimbabwe and was appointed a week
before last month's African Nations Cup qualifier against the
Cape Verde Islands.
However, he was forced to flee Harare within days of his
arrival in early October after being told during his second
training session that police were seeking to arrest him because
he had started his new job without necessary documentation.
"It was one of the scariest moments of my life," Saintfiet
explained in an interview with Reuters.
"I couldn't get my luggage from the hotel but drove
straight to the border. I had no idea why this all happened or
where it all ends. I have been shocked."
Saintfiet said he presumed approval for the work permit was
a formality and would have been issued without delay while he
got on with the task of preparing the team for an important
Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper suggested on Friday
that the decision had been motivated by political infighting
within the association, with top officials split on the
appointment of a foreign coach over a local.
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