Tom Saintfiet to coach PH men's football team

Tom Saintfiet to coach PH men’s football team

/ 03:53 PM February 26, 2024

azakls philippine men's football team coach Tom Saintfiet

Belgian Tom Saintfiet, center, has been named new coach of the Philippine men’s football team formerly known as the Azkals.–PFF PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–The Philippine Football Federation appointed Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet to call the shots for the men’s national team formerly known as the Azkals beginning with next month’s two World Cup/Asian Cup Qualifiers matches against Iraq.

Saintfiet was introduced Monday in a press conference as he takes over from German Michael Weiss, whose second tenure ended after eight months in charge that included the handling of the team’s opening matches in the qualifiers against Vietnam and Indonesia.


“Knowing the project and the goals of the federation, it was made clear that this is not a normal task,” said Saintfiet, who is coming off a long stint with Gambia and had been in contact with the PFF since December.


READ: Hunt on for strikers who could take Azkals to next level

During his recent spell, Saintfiet guided Gambia to two appearances in the Africa Cup of Nations, the continent’s major competition, in 2021 and last month.

He will be the fourth coach in 14 months for the men’s side, but new team manager Freddy Gonzalez said Saintfiet is going to be at the helm for a “long while.”

“We felt Tom was a perfect match for us,” said Gonzalez. “Tom wants to win and he’s not just here for the job. He is here to help us reach our goals and we struck a good rapport straight away after we first spoke to him. He basically aligned with our goals and we thought he’s the best fit for us.”

Saintfiet’s first task is to help the men’s team gain some headway in the joint qualifiers with a tough task of trying to get a result in the two meetings with Iraq on March 21 in Basra and March 26 at Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Philippines could only produce one point in the initial window of the qualifiers both held at home, losing 2-0 to Vietnam and settling for a 1-1 tie with Indonesia after conceding a late equalizer.

Saintfiet hopes to get a team that could try and produce a needed result in the remaining matches of the World Cup/Asian Cup Qualifiers, with the goal of having a roster of players either based here or abroad that could fit in his grand scheme of things.


He has already scheduled an open training session for Friday at Rizal Memorial, where local-based footballers are invited for possible inclusion in the squad for the upcoming window.

“We would like to create a team that still believes that we could be in the top two [of the qualification group],” Saintfiet said.

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