Philippines coach gets death threats from Indonesia fans

By Trung Thu   June 10, 2024 | 03:11 pm PT
Coach Tom Saintfiet of the Philippines received death threats from Indonesian football fans after his statement was misinterpreted as wanting to help Vietnam get past the second round of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers

Philippines lost 3-2 to Vietnam in the fifth fixture of the World Cup second qualifiers on June 6. Saintfiet's statements at the post-match press conference were cut and edited into him supporting Vietnam and trying to do that by beating Indonesia.

Coach Tom Saintfied during the game between Philippines and Vietnam in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers on June 6. Photo VnExpress/Lam Thoa

Coach Tom Saintfied during the game between Philippines and Vietnam in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers in My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi on June 6, 2024. Photo VnExpress/Lam Thoa

The Belgian coach told Indonesian media on Sunday that he was unhappy when his statement was misinterpreted.

At the press conference in Hanoi on June 6, he received a question about Vietnam's chances of advancing to the next qualifying round and he replied that the team have a chance and at the same time Philippines will try their best to defeat Indonesia.

Saintfiet was also asked what he thought when many Vietnamese fans would support the Philippines to beat Indonesia. The 51-year-old coach said he was happy about that, but that did not mean he was a supporter of Vietnam.

"I answered that Vietnam have a chance [to advance]. We will also try to beat Indonesia, but not for Vietnam to increase their advancing chance, but for us," Saintfiet said.

This incident troubled coach Saintfiet as many Indonesian fans overreacted to the edited statement.

"I even received death threats because of things I didn't say," he added.

Indonesia are second in Group F, one point ahead of Vietnam. If the Philippines lose against Indonesia, Vietnam have no chance of advancing to the next round. If the Philippines win, Vietnam only need a draw against Iraq to move on. If Philippines hold Indonesia off with a draw, Vietnam have to beat Iraq.

Saintfiet said Indonesia were a very strong team and considered them an emerging force in Asian football.

"We will try to defeat Indonesia, but it will be very difficult," he said. "Indonesia are higher-rated and they get to play in a stadium full of home fans."

Philippines will play Indonesia at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium while Vietnam face Iraq at 1 a.m. on Wednesday.

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