The last may not have been heard on the purported return of Coach Stephen Keshi as Super Eagles coach, for there appears to be fresh hurdles in the way of the 2013 Afcon winner
Sports Vanguard exclusively gathered that despite the willingness of the Nigeria Football Federation to offer Keshi a fresh contract, the board is bitter over a recent interview the coach granted Hot FM, an Abuja-based radio station in which Keshi was alleged to have called the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick a liar. The board members are therefore, insisting that the coach must tender a public apology to the President of the NFF, Amaju Pinnick and the executive board for calling them liars.
Keshi had in the interview, which was copiously reported by various news organs alluded that the NFF boss was saying he had been given a fresh contract, when nothing like that had taken place.
In the celebrated interview, Keshi said, “Amaju (Pinnick) never told me anything and I don’t know what he is talking about. He and I have not spoken in over two months, so I don’t know what he’s talking about.
“How can Amaju (Pinnick) call himself the President of the Federation (NFF) and he is lying to Nigerians? Is that how he wants to govern Nigerian football? How? I don’t get it,” Keshi told Hot FM.
“That explains why he will sign a code of conduct,” our source said.
There has been a frosty relationship between the coach and his employers since the new board was sworn in September, last year.
Keshi had described his new contract as “a slave contract” and wanted several clauses in it removed.
He has also publicly complained about unpaid salaries and bonuses. Other national team coaches have also been ordered to refrain from discussing with the media matters outside their technical work, ranging from salaries and other administrative issues.
Apart from the public apology which the board is asking of the former Togo coach, they are also insisting that the coach goes abroad for a refresher course so as to brush up his knowledge of the game.
“Keshi has been asked to go to England to understudy Allan Pardew, the Crystal Palace manager,” a top NFF source told us. We were not told what informed the choice of the former Newcastle United coach as the man Keshi should understudy.
The source who pleaded anonymity, disclosed further that the directive was in line with the new administration’s drive for high standard in all facets of Nigerian football.
“You could recall that when the new board came on board, the first thing they did was to send two batches of referees to the UK. Another group of coaches and ex-internationals followed not long afterwards. They were there for a match-reading course. So, it is not surprising that they have asked Keshi to go to the UK and brush himself up for the task ahead.”
It was however, said that the former Togo coach was yet to respond to NFF’s offer, so, it remains unclear whether he would accept the offer or not.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) won’t make an announcement on the fate of out-of-contract Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi despite confirming a new deal has been approved.
“Keshi’s contract has been approved by the NFF board’’, NFF president Amaju Pinnick said last Wednesday.
“All that is left now is for him to sign it. As we speak Keshi has not put pen to paper.”
But it was gathered from sources close to the negotiations that the new approved deal is yet to be completed as the NFF claims distractions due to the country’s presidential election.
“He was supposed to be given the approved deal last Friday but the NFF officials were nowhere around as they all travelled to their various states to vote,” a source said.
However, the waiting game will not be for long as our source said, the delay was out of respect for the counting of the presidential poll. “All talks are on hold until after the election drama,” the source said.
The election results have been announced and some analysts are speculating that things may fall apart for Keshi who was backed by President Goodluck Jonathan. ‘’The wind of change is blowing everywhere and those in the Glass house are apprehensive too’’, a source said yesterday after the results of the Presidential elections were announced.
The Big Boss, as Keshi is called, has been in charge of the Super Eagles since 2011 but despite winning the 2013 AFCON, many have been calling for his dismissal.
The poor results that have trailed the AFCON victory have not helped Keshi. The call for his sack reached a climax when Nigeria failed to qualify for the African Cup of Nations held in Equatorial Guinea.