Keshi’s Sack: Who Should Be Blamed? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Keshi’s Sack: Who Should Be Blamed?

Posted: Jul 6, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Augustine Akhilomen Lagos

An actor leaves the stage when the ovation is loudest. This is a widely held view in this part of the world.



If former Super Eagles Head Coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, had left the stage when he was hailed as a hero, especially after guiding the team to the second round of the last World Cup in Brazil, his ignominious sack last Saturday night would not have happened.

Today, Keshi is a classical study of someone who fell from grace to grass. The coach, who became an instant hero after winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 2013; 19 years after the country last won the trophy, was sacked ignominiously on Saturday, though expectedly.

Things turned upside down for keshi, when he announced his resignation a day after winning the Africa Cup of Nations in a South African radio on the premise that the federation led by Aminu Maigari, worked against him in South Africa.

Because of the euphoria that followed the victory, nobody saw anything wrong in what Keshi did because Nigerians have never seen anything good in the NFF. Even the federal government took side with Keshi, and he became more powerful than the federation. He became lord of the manor, with everybody in the federation dancing to his tune.

After qualifying the team for the 2014 World Cup, it was crisis after crisis, as players protested openly against the NFF, ostensibly casting the NFF in bad image. First, it was in Mozambique, after a 2014 World Cup qualifier. The players refused to fly to Brazil for the Confederation Cup that is always held a year before the World Cup. The players eventually called off their action after government’s intervention and FIFA threat.

The second time was at the World Cup proper in Brazil when the players also boycotted action, asking for the payment of their match bonuses with the government having to fly dollars in cash to Brazil before they started training. But the team eventually crashed out of the tournament, losing 2-0 to France.

With the election crisis that engulfed the NFF, renewing his contract was relegated to the background. Before the election was resolved, the qualifiers for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations had started. The then Sports Minister, Tammy Danagogo, hired him to coach the team.

Midway, keshi was booted out by the Amaju Pinnick-led board, but the then President, Goodluck Jonathan, ordered his re-instatement.

Even when the NFF dilly-dally, a top DSS officer arm-twisted the board into renewing Keshi’s contract.

The allegation that he applied to coach the Elephants of Cote d’ Ivoire was the last straw that broke his camel’s back.

So last week the coast became clear for whatever the NFF wanted to do with the sack of the DSS officer by President Mohammadu Buhari.

Keshi, who was investigated by the disciplinary committee of the NFF headed by Chris Green, was alleged to have breached his contract.

NFF, in a statement, said: “having thoroughly reviewed the reports/findings of the NFF Disciplinary Committee and NFF Technical and Development Committee, as well as having reviewed the actions and inactions of Mr. Stephen Keshi, in the performance of his duties as Super Eagles’ Head Coach, which we found to lack the required commitment to achieve the Federation’s objectives as set out in the Coach’s employment contract.”

“To this end and pursuant to the provisions of Clause 4.3 of the Employment Contract between Mr. Stephen Keshi and the NFF (The Contract) and the various clauses therein, the Nigeria Football Federation has decided to exercise its option to summarily terminate the employment contract of Mr. Stephen Keshi with the Federation with immediate effect.”

Former Super Eagles coach, Christian Chukwu, backed the sack of Keshi.

“Honestly I think the NFF is right on this. From day one, it was obvious that the federation didn’t really want to work with Keshi and one could read it easily from their body language. Coaching job is all about hiring and firing and I hope Keshi will take it in good faith.”

Also, former Super Eagles Coach, Adegboye Onigbinde, was coy on his stand over the sack, applauding the NFF for appointing Shuaibu Amodu as the interim coach of the Nigerian national team.

“There’s nothing anybody can do now about Keshi’s sack. Onigbinde said. “I saw it coming but it’s a good step that the NFF immediately directed Shaibu Amodu to take charge of the team in the interim. This was supposed to be a new dawn for the team and I feel they shouldn’t have made this whole thing a public affair.

“I’m not privy to the terms of his contract with the NFF so I don’t know who is to blame for the way things happened.”

FIFA’s Players’ Accredited Agent, Chris Eseka, blamed Keshi for what happened to him.

“Why did he (Keshi) fight for the job, if he knew he did not want it? If he had applied for the Cote d’ Ivoire before he got the Super Eagles job, it is explainable.

“The NFF is saying that he is no longer loyal, he can no longer drive the federation dream. I think he got it wrong if certain clauses in his contract do not allow him to look for another job,” Eseka noted.

“Why mess up himself? If he knew the contract did not favour him, why take, why must he allow himself to messed up?

A former Green Eagles winger, Adokiye Amiesimaka (MON), said that he was not surprised at the sack of Keshi, because the NFF board never believed in him.

“It is clear that the moment he was employed and after winning the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, it was obvious they did not want him.

“Keshi was not wanted by the NFF. After winning the cup, Keshi ran into different problems with the federation.

“Some top NFF officials made it clear that they wanted a foreign coach; they were merely looking for excuse to throw him out,’’ he said.

Amiesimaka said it could have dawned on Keshi that his employers did not want him.

“I saw it coming, Keshi should have seen it coming, I am sure other Nigerians too should have seen it coming, he was never their choice,’’ he said.

However, a former board member of the NFF, Dickson Adejube, faulted the rate at which the federation had been sacking national team coaches.

“This is badly timed; a time that we are preparing for competitions, coaches are being sacked. This is the time the NFF is supposed to sit down and think of how to move the teams forward.

“You will see the repercussion, and we will have ourselves to blame in the end,” he said.

Also, Atlanta Olympic gold medalist, Joseph Dosu, took  a swipe at NFF over the sack. Dosu is of the opinion that the football house should not have taken such decision.

“I am not really happy that the NFF has decided to sack Keshi .

“Since the Cote D’Ivoire Football Federation didn’t make an announcement on his application case, I don’t expect NFF to just take such decision.

“As far as I am concerned, this is not the right time to sack Keshi considering the fact that the Super Eagles will play Tanzania in September. I just hope that Nigeria qualifies for the Africa Cup of Nations so that what happened in 2014 will not reoccur in 2017.”