The Scorpions head coach, Tom Saintfeit has defended his 4-5-1 tactics in the Gambia’s 1-1 draw against Algeria Friday in the final qualifier for the 2019 African Cup of Nations tournament in Egypt.
The Belgian has been under heavy criticism from Scorpions supporters for his team’s dull performance in Algeria. Others blast him for choosing to use a defensive formation in a match the team was expected to attack and win.
Listen to Tom Saintfeit defending his records as Scorpions coach
But Saintfeit is not apologetic for defending instead of attacking. “Playing all-attacking football in Algeria would be like committing suicide,” he told The Chronicle in an exclusive interview.
The last game the Scorpions played all-attack formation against Algeria was in 2012 and they lost 4-1. Algeria haven’t lost at home after 34 games before meeting us. Therefore as a professional and an experienced coach, I know what strategy is needed to get a positive result,” the 45-year said.
‘’If you want to win, you have to be also very smart. If we played very attacking football against this Algerian team, we would concede at least 3, 4 or even 5 goals. This is not local league football were everyone can attack.”
Following the draw against Algeria which made the Scorpions’ quest to qualify for the AFCON over, many fans and commentators have questioned his competence and called for his sacking. Among them is football commentator, Bunja Kebbeh who said “It’s obvious that this coach is no brainer, not better than our local coaches and he has to be sacked upon the team’s return.”
Former Scorpions goalkeeper, Pa Dembo Touray argued that “the way forward is that the coach has to go.”
In his reaction, Saintfeit defended his records since his appointment as head coach, boasting that he had the highest points rate in the last ten years of the Gambian national team football.
“I gave The Gambia its first victory in five years, the highest victory in eight years and collected a point against Algeria for the first time. So, if the best coach in the history of Gambian football has to be sacked, what can you say on that? The statics are clear for all to see. If anyone wants to have my Job, they have to prove that they have the ability and the qualifications and all that is needed to coach a national side. I’m not worried about the critics. I think is more about jealousy.”
In July 2018, Tom Saintfeit signed a nine-month contract to coach the Scorpions. His arrival was received with hope and optimism by the fans who are now disappointed with his performance eight months down the line.
“I took up The Gambia National team not with the mission to qualify, but to be competitive and I succeeded in it.”
Before the appointment of Tom Saintfeit as the national team coach, The Gambia played twenty-one qualifying round matches in the last ten years, winning just two, drawing five and losing fourteen.
The Belgian coach, who also worked with Togo and Zimbabwe, has so far presided over five games, registering one win, three draws and a loss.