Saintfiet and Namibians Raring to Go in PSL

Former Brave Warriors coach Tom Saintfiet is raring to go in the South African Premier Soccer League after recently being appointed as the coach of Free State Stars.

Saintfiet wasted little time in signing three Namibian players Da Costa Angula, Rudolf Bester and Hendrik Somaeb and after successful pre-season preparations he is confident of making an impact in the PSL this season.

Saintfiet told The Namibian Sport that he was looking forward to the challenge.

“I am very happy to be the new coach of Free State Stars. Last year they came 14th on the log and only escaped relegation on the last day, but this year our ambition is to get back in the top eight, a position which is more normal for the club, while we will also try to achieve something in the Cup competitions. It will be tough, but I like the challenge, I am an ambitious coach and will go for it,” he said.

According to Saintfiet he got the job after being approached by Namibian soccer agent Collin April.

“I was still working for the Belgian club KV Turnhout when I got a phone call from Collin April who asked if I would be interested to coach in the PSL. At that stage I had two other offers, but I came to South Africa to meet the management of Free State Stars and from the first moment I had a good feeling and I decided to take this opportunity.”

Saintfiet signed several new players, including the three Namibians, and said it was important to sign players who understood his tactical ideas.

“I have followed Da Costa closely and was impressed with the evolution that he has made as a player. I am convinced he will make it in the PSL – he is physically g, very intelligent and experienced at national team level, so I pushed for his signing.”

Saintfiet said Somaeb was a signing for the future.

“Hendrik Somaeb was already at the club for trials before I arrived, and he is young, skilful and very fast. If Da Costa and Bester are immediate signings for the first 11, Ballack is more a signing for the future. He will get playing time in the PSL, but naturally he will have to become ger and learn to claim a starting place every week. I like him very much, he fits into my tactics and he will make it in the PSL,” he said.

Regarding Bester, he said the 31-year-old midfielder was high on his list of priorities.

“Bester is 31, but I worked two and a half years with him in Namibia, and he was high on my list to be signed here. It took some time before he arrived but I am very happy with him in the team, he knows my tactics, my ideas, he knows the PSL and is ready to prove to everyone that he is still a top player, he is still fast, can score goals and can make a huge difference in some matches.”

Saintfiet said their involvement in the PSL would also help the Brave Warriors.

“It’s not only good for Free State Stars but also for the Brave Warriors that these boys play in the PSL, because they will still develop and play and train week in and out at a high level. National team coach Ricardo Mannetti already called me about the boys, and we stay in close contact, while the NFA is also in touch with me about the development of the players.”

Saintfiet said he had tried to sign several other Namibian players.

“I also had contact with some other Namibian players like Wilko Risser, Sadney Urikhob, Ninja Karongee, Eslin Kamuhanga and others, but it is not always possible to bring all the players that you want.”

Free State Stars open their 201415 PSL campaign against glamour club Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday and Saintfiet said they were looking forward to the match.

“Playing Kaizer Chiefs will be fun and we have nothing to lose – they are the favourites and all the pressure will be on them. My team is ready and I believe we can surprise South Africa. Now Namibia know who they have to support, and we will play in the same red strip as the Brave Warriors!” he added.

Source : The Namibian