The Gambia’s Sports Ministry has extended the contract of their national team’s head coach Tom Saintfiet to 31 May 2021, the country’s football federation (GFF) confirmed on Friday.
The Belgian has been rewarded for guiding the Scorpions to a third place finish in the recent 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Saintfiet, 46, a former Togo, Zimbabwe and Malta head coach, had initially signed a nine-month contract in July 2018.
“Upon the recommendation of the Federation, the Ministry of Youth and Sports has re-engaged Mr. Tom Saintfiet as the head coach of the senior national team of The Gambia for a two-year period,” the GFF said in a statement.
Saintfiet has been tasked to qualify the West African nation for the country’s first Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup.
“I’m proud to extend the deal with the Gambia, I enjoyed the last year working with the Scorpions and I believe that we have a lot of potential,” Saintfiet told BBC Sport.
“For me the reason in the first place that I came to the Gambia was the belief in the potential of the players and I think they proved I was right, we were very close to qualifying for the Afcon.
“The goal now in the next two years naturally is to try and achieve that. Everything depends on the draw but I am very positive about the potential of the players and the cooperation of the Federation that we can improve and hopefully we can write history.”
The Scorpions will be heading to a training camp in Morocco this week although Saintfiet has been dealt a huge blow as most of his big name players have failed to honour his invitation.
“I don’t want to talk about players who don’t respect the invitation of their national team. I will analyse the players who will be in Morocco training and playing for their country combined with the players who I worked with in the last 10 months and then make a decision of which players are useful.
“At the moment I don’t write anyone out of the national team but it is clear that the players who played already, the players who will be in Morocco and who proved their worth for my national team, will have the priority naturally”.