This Day (Lagos)

24 January 2014

Nigeria: No Party for Birthday Boy Keshi

Photo: CAF
The super Eagles made a dramatic come-back to book a semi-finals spot.

Super Eagles Head Coach, Stephen Keshi, insisted Thursday that his 52nd birthday will not be celebrated until Nigeria achieves success at the ongoing African Nations Championship in South Africa.

Keshi clocked 52 yesterday, but said the birthday has to wait as the home-based Eagles prepare to take on Morocco tomorrow for a place in the last four of the African Nations Championship (CHAN).

Keshi said: "As a matter of fact we have suspended any form of celebration till we achieve what we came here to do in South Africa," he said.

The management of Green Court Hotel, however stole time during lunch hour yesterday to celebrate the coach, as the staff pulled out birthday balloons and cakes for the former Anderlecht of Belgium and Strasbourg of France skipper.

The players also sang the happy birthday song for Keshi, who was a bit taken aback by the spontaneity of the event.

"All these for me, I'm surprised but very grateful", the coach said as he admired the birthday balloons in the dining hall.

Birthday wishes have poured in from everywhere for 'Big Boss'.

Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Aminu Maigari, took his fatherly role a step higher when he was one of the first to wish Keshi a happy 52nd birthday via a phone call early yesterday.

After him was the chairman of the NFF technical sub-committee, Chris Green.

In his message, Maigari said Keshi's birthday was another opportunity for him to demonstrate his coaching and leadership credentials by winning the ongoing CHAN in South Africa.

"On our part in the NFF, I can assure you that support will not be lacking despite the huge challenge of funding football," he said.

"We congratulate you on the occasion of your birthday and while wishing you many happy returns we pray that you continue to bring Nigeria joy through excellent coaching of the national team with the immediate task being victory at the ongoing CHAN tourney." The team continued training yesterday evening at the Green Point training ground in Cape Town in preparation for Saturday's quarterfinal clash with the Atlas Lions of Morocco.

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