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Tom Saintfiet is new Philippine men’s football coach

Tom Saintfiet, new Philippine men’s football team coach

Tom Saintfiet has been named as the new head coach of the Philippine men’s national football team.

The move was announced by the Philippine Football Federation on Monday.

According to national teams director Freddy Gonzalez, Saintfiet is the right person to handle the team as the federation hopes to win the AFF Mitsubishi Cup and qualify for the Asian Cup, and eventually the World Cup.

"I was in need of a new task, an ambitious task. I was not in need of a new job, I am in need of a new project. I'm proud to be a part of this ambitious project and I'm sure we altogether will succeed in our dreams," Saintfiet said in a press conference.

He will replace Michael Weiss, who was appointed as head coach last June 2023.

Saintfiet, 50 years old, will bring in years of coaching national teams, with the most recent being Gambia as he handled the team from 2018-2024. He also previously held the national teams of Malta, Trinidad and Tobago, Bangladesh, Togo, Malawi, Yemen, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia.

He also steered the Gambia national team to back-to-back appearances in the Africa Cup of Nations in 2021, where they finished sixth, and in 2023.

Gonzalez said Saintfiet will be in it "for a while" as the federation aims for stability.

"One of the most important things for us, the national teams, is consistency and stability. That's something we lacked in the past. Coach Tom is gonna be here for a while. This is a long-term project so we have him contracted for quite a bit. Same with the pool of players," Gonzalez said.

"Consistency and stability is one of the most important things for us so we have everybody here in Tom's staff for the long haul."

The work will start as soon as possible as the federation also announced an open training session on Friday afternoon.

The national men's team will also compete in the March window of the World Cup qualifiers as they play Iraq in Basra before returning home. The Philippines fell to Vietnam, 0-2, and settled for a draw against Indonesia, 1-1. 

—JMB, GMA Integrated News