Leadership (Abuja)

13 February 2013

Nigeria: Inside Story of Keshi's Resignation

Super Eagles Coach Stephen Keshi had to set a booby trap for eggheads of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the minister of sports to walk in so as to drum support and respect for indigenous coaches not only in Nigeria but for the entire continent. Former Super Eagles captain and player, Sunday Oliseh, a staunch supporter of Keshi who is also in the know of the thinking of Keshi revealed why Keshi acted the way he did.

"Thrice Amodu Shuaibu qualified the Super Eagles for the World Cup and I was his captain and knew how passionate he was about the qualification. I saw him sick but he wanted to do the job. He said even if he had to go to heaven that way he would to take his country to the World Cup. But he was sacked and they brought in a foreign coach who only went to the World Cup and collected our money and left us after the World Cup. It hurts. And that is why Keshi is acting the he is," Oliseh said.

Keshi, who is a strong believer in local coaches, dedicated the trophy he won last Sunday to his colleagues, stating that the attitude of Nigerian and African sports authorities must change from "bringing any 'carpenter' from Europe' masquerading as coach to tinker the national team."

Following Super Eagles' shaky start, especially during the group stage, behind the scene moves had begun on doing away with the coach.

LEADERSHIP SPORTS gathered the move started with the sports minister, Bolaji Abdullahi, who reached a lawmaker asking for his support to sack Keshi once the team returned. On the part of the NFF, the move to sack Keshi was anchored on spending a whooping N100m on him without results. That was before the upset against Cote d'Ivoire.

Most Nigerians, including some journalists and sports officials began to change their flight schedules to a day after the clash against Cote d'Ivoire thinking the Ivorians would send the Eagles packing. It was open secret in South Africa that heads would roll in the Eagles bench as tickets were said to have been bought for the team to return. But an NFF official said Eagles don't travel that way.

"Since the Sani Lulu led board, we have been flying Eagles on chartered flights, so there couldn't have been any reason to buy individual tickets except for those flying to their respective clubs. That is all I can say."

According to Premium Times, the unexpected resignation of Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, was a deliberate plot to draw the attention of the presidency to the shoddy manner the NFF was managing the affairs of the team and the lack of faith in his ability.

A source close to Keshi said the coach had endured months of undue interference, especially from the head of NFF's technical committee, Chris Green. "Green sees himself as coach of the Eagles," our source, who asked not to be named, said.

"He dictates to Keshi on players to select and he is always of the view that Keshi is not good enough. He is an advocate of hiring a European coach. In fact during the Nations Cup, he was discussing with many coaches, especially the coach of Zambia to take over from Keshi."

"Green and Maigari have been a pain in Keshi neck. Keshi believed that by resigning, the president would call him and he could tell him all about in order to get the guys off his back."

Former Super Eagles midfielder, Garba Lawal, said in an exclusive chat with LEADERSHIP SPORTS that the decision of Keshi to resign and later withdraw it was a personal one.

"Keshi knew the battles he was facing and why he chose to resign. Keshi signed a contract with the NFF and he knows the terms and conditions in the contract and I think for him to want to resign after leading the team to victory is all up to him. It's just like a footballer saying he doesn't want to play anymore, and wants to retire from the game, it's a personal decision."

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