Coach Stephen Keshi has revealed that he was yet to make up his mind whether to return as the Super Eagles coach. Keshi’s reinstatement was sanctioned by President Goodluck Jonathan as part of the measures by government to resolve the crisis which has disrupted the effective running of Nigerian football. The coach who led Nigeria to victory at the last Africa Cup of Nations in 2013 was on October 15 relieved of the Eagles job by the NFF board owing to the shaky performance of the national team in the qualifying race to Morocco 2015.
But after a meeting with Sports Minister, Tammy Danagogo, in his office yesterday morning, Keshi said he still needed to take a long reflection on the presidential directive before deciding to take a plunge with the national team.
“It is a very, very difficult decision. I am not sure I would say ‘no’ for now or ‘yes’ to the order. I still have to think about it because we all want peace. I want a settled mind before making the decision. I don’t have issues with anybody because life is too short. This is my country. I am always willing to offer my service. If I desperately wanted a contract, I would have opted for the offer made by Equatorial Guinea because the offer they made was bigger than what Nigeria offered. But this is my country and I want to serve it,” said Keshi.
He has not succeeded in tying down an offer since he left the Eagles post. Instead, he has been speculated to be on the radar of Ethiopia and of late Ghana. Both countries have since denied making any overture to the reigning African coach of the year.
Also yesterday, interim Head Coach of the senior national team, Coach Shaibu Amodu, pleaded passionately with the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to allow Keshi return to his post to lead Eagles in the two remaining matches of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
In a letter dated 27th October, 2014 and addressed to NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, through the chairman of NFF Technical Committee, the 56 -year old tactician who was named as new head coach penultimate week, said he wanted Keshi reconsidered for the two matches as the time -frame was too short to tinker with the fabric of the squad or start to build a new one altogether.
“Following wide consultations that I have carefully made within the past two weeks since the appointment, and for the sake of professionalism, I want to specially appeal to you to reconsider the matter and allow Stephen Keshi to finish the project that he has started – the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying race.
“Sir, my opinion also is that the time -frame is too short to start tinkering with the fabric of the team or attempt to build a new team altogether.
“As Technical Director of the NFF, I am ready and willing to help build a better relationship among Keshi (with whom I have enjoyed good working relationship in the past and who is still very close to me), the players and the NFF Technical Committee.
“I am assuring you, Mr. President, that I will offer whatever assistance required by Keshi and his crew for the remaining two matches, and also be there to offer advice, suggestions and efforts towards building a stronger Super Eagles’ team after the qualifying race,” observed the former Orlando Pirates of South Africa gaffer.
Nigeria plays Congo Brazzaville in Pointe Noire on November 15 before taking on South Africa in Uyo four days later, needing to not only win both matches but defeat Congo by a margin of two goals away, to stand any chance of qualifying for the 2015 finals.