At Last, Keshi Accepts NFF’s Contract
AFTER ‘the marathon race,’ Coach Stephen Okechukwu Keshi has finally accepted the new deal offered to him by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to continue handling the Super Eagles.
Keshi’s initial contract of three years ran out after the Brazil 2014 World Cup. He had a mutual agreement with the NFF to take the team through the qualifiers for the 2015 Nations Cup, but he failed to qualify the Super Eagles for the competition in Equatorial Guinea, prompting a debate on whether or not to give him a new contract.
When he eventually received a new contract from the NFF earlier this month, the ‘Big Boss’ said he was not impressed with the offer, describing it as a “slave contract.”
However, the President of the NFF, Amaju Pinnick, told The Guardian yesterday in Lagos that Keshi had accepted the contract, adding that the coach would resume duty next week. His first assignment would be the Super Eagles’ friendly games against the Cranes of Uganda at the Nest of Champions in Uyo on March 26 and the tie against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in Nelspruit on March 29.
Pinnick said yesterday that Keshi would meet with members of the sporting media, first in Abuja as he resume office next week, before having a round table talk with those in Lagos. “Yes, Keshi has accepted the NFF contract and he will resume duty next week,” Pinnick told The Guardian.
On insinuations that the Presidency arm-twisted the NFF to give Keshi a new contract despite failing to qualify Nigeria for the 2015 AFCON, Pinnick said: “Sincerely speaking, President Goodluck Jonathan does not have a hand in it. He never gave us any directive concerning Keshi’s return. The NFF Technical Committee felt we should give him another chance.
“Coincidentally, that was the time Mr. President called me and Chris Giwa to the villa over the NFF crisis. That was how people started spreading rumour that Jonathan had directed the NFF to bring back Keshi. It was not so.
“It took us three months to prepare the new contract for Keshi and I am happy the waiting game is over. Keshi needs the support of all Nigerians, the sporting media in particular, and I am sure things will be different this time,” Pinnick said.