Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi may have resigned from his job after leading the Super Eagles to their first Africa Nations Cup triumph in 19 years, but says he is waiting for the Nigeria Fooyball Federation’s response.
According to MTNFootball.com, Keshi told a popular South African radio show on Monday evening that he handed in his resignation letter after the Cup Final on Sunday night.
“I gave them (NFF) my letter of resignation immediately after last night’s game, but I haven’t heard from them yet,” Keshi told Metro FM on Monday night.
The statement sent shockwaves across social media platforms, with many fans on twitter saying they were surprised, with the turn of events.
Another version of the story on Goal.com, says that Keshi claims that he was sacked prior to their quarterfinal clash against Ivory Coast, because apparently the Nigerian Football Federation booked a plane back to Nigeria as soon as they found out that they will play Ivory Coast.
Nigeria deservedly won the match 2-1 with their younger, hungrier mix of local and foreign-based stars running the ageing Elephants ragged and Mba snatched a late match-winner.
Keshi claimed on Metro FM that he heard about the arrangement made by the NFF after the Mali game, and that he did not want to take it to mind as it would have affected his team’s preparations.
Keshi’s resignation letter still has to be discussed by the NFF, and the coach says he is unlikely to change his mind, because he believes that NFF did not trust and respect his tactics as a coach.
The coach did tell Goal.com a few days before the final, that he would ‘pack his bags and leave’ if he felt he was not wanted, and it is a surprising turn of events after the coach was highly praised from all quarters.
Attempts to get the reaction of the NFF and the Nigerian sports ministry proved unsuccessful.
Keshi dropped hints last week of his unhappiness with Nigerian football officials in Durban before the semi-final drubbing of Mali, telling a media conference he would “pack his bags and leave” if unwanted.
“If, back home, they do not like what I am doing, well, you cannot force someone to like you,” said only the second Nations Cup-winning coach after the late Egyptian Mahmoud El Gohary to also achieve the feat as a player.
Keshi captained Nigeria to victory over Zambia in the 1994 final and guided his country to a 1-0 win over Burkina Faso Sunday in a Soweto final settled by a Sunday Mba goal five minutes before half-time.
Keshi spoke highly of Mali last week, saying he would not mind returning to a country he coached at the 2010 Cup of Nations in Angola only to be fired after a first-round elimination.
“It is a place that I love, Malians are wonderful people. Should the chance arise, I will go back there,” said the 51-year-old who also had two spells with Togo before replacing sacked Samson Siasia as Nigeria coach two years ago.
His playing career spanned clubs in Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Belgium, France, the United States and Malaysia, and he was an outstanding centre-back for the national team.
Calls to Keshi went unanswered.
Ben Alaya, media officer to the Super Eagles however denied that the coach has resigned.
Also, Ohimai Godwin Amaze, an aide to Bolaji Abdullahi, the Minister of Sports said there was no truth in the news. “I have just spoken with Nigeria Minister of Sports and he has confirmed that news of Keshi’s sack or resignation is a lie”, said Amaze on his twitter page.
“The Sports minister who is with Keshi and the team in South Africa confirms that Coach Keshi and the team are planning for the world cup”, he added.
The triumphant squad are scheduled to arrive Abuja Tuesday afternoon in a chartered Arik Air flight.