By Ben Efe
Respected Nigeria football aficionado,Chief Adegboyega Onigbinde is hopeful that the outcome of FIFA’s query to Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi over alleged racial slur on Belgian-born coach Tom Saintfeit, will not affect the fortunes of the team in the 2014 World Cup qualification play-offs.
In the heat of the mind games ahead of the group qualifier between Nigeria and Malawi, Keshi was reported to have called Saintfeit a “white dude” adding also that Saintfeit who was an interim coach for the Flames of Malawi should go back to his country. Saintfeit, a well traveled coach in Africa reported the matter to the world soccer governing body.
FIFA which has always frowned at any form of racial comments, gave Keshi two weeks to explain himself and if he is found wanting, he might get the stick for his utterances. “Keshi knows what led him to make such statements if at all he did. But I believe that he should be able to defend himself,” said Onigbinde, a FIFA instructor.
He admitted that it was worrisome that this drama is coming when the Eagles are facing the last hurdle of their qualification to the 2014 World Cup. “We can only wish that the outcome will not throw the team off its stride in view of the matches ahead. FIFA does not usually take into cognisance any approaching game before taking decisions on disciplinary matters. “All what we can do now, is to hope that Keshi puts up a strong defence and escape sanctions.”
Nigeria Football Federation technical committee chairman, Chris Green confirmed that Keshi got an official query from FIFA before the match against Malawi in Calabar. “We are all putting our thoughts together and will give Keshi an opportunity to defend himself within the deadline given by Fifa.“The federation is confident that coach Stephen Keshi is not a racist and what transpired between both coaches has been blown out of proportion. We are very optimistic that everything will be sorted out amicably,” Green stressed.