The return of Stephen Keshi | Independent Newspapers Limited
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The return of Stephen Keshi

Posted: Apr 27, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Uzor Odigbo Lagos

Finally, the waiting game is over as Stephen Keshi on Tuesday, last week, in Abuja was re-appointed Super Eagles coach on a two-year contract after ten months of uncertainty over his future.The 53-year-old signed the contract following days of speculation after decision by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to offer him the job.

MnewsKeshi’s previous contract ended after the World Cup in Brazil, where he took Nigeria to the second round as the country lost to France in Brasilia.

He had been asked to work on a per-game basis during the country’s ill-fated qualifying campaign for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. That failure had threatened to derail his odds of keeping the job but pressure from the government ensured that he was the only candidate interviewed by NFF, some of whose members threatened to resign if he was given the job.

Keshi, a former captain of the Super Eagles, led the team to win the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, 19 years after he last lifted it as a player. His present contract is expected to last till 2017 and would be determined by success or otherwise in the Africa Nations Cup qualifiers and the tournament in Gabon.

The returnee Super Eagles’ Coach signed a two-year deal of N5 million monthly salary with NFF, ending months of uncertainty and speculation over his future. After he had signed the deal, the former coach of Hawks of Togo said henceforth his players must put in the right amount of effort to raise their game.

Keshi revealed that any big player who hopes for a senior team call up in this second dispensation would have to work very hard to prove his form, as he believes that selection from now on will be performance based.

“It’s not easy, it’s a tasking job, but this is what I love doing and I love seeing these young kids come into camp because it’s my legacy when I was in Togo and Mali. But for me to be able to control their performance level in the game, it is a personal thing and matter of personal excellence. It depends on every individual to put in the right effort to get better. It’s not my job to be on their necks to tell players how much importance they attach to their career.

Meanwhile, Keshi’s third spell in charge would see a few changes in his backroom staff, as former assistant coach, Daniel Amokachi has been dropped. There are speculations that former Kano Pillars Coach, Salisu Yusuf, would take up Amokachi’s place.

Over the past few months, there had been worries among Nigerian football fans, over the fortunes of the Super Eagles, particularly as the team failed to qualify for the 2015 AFCON.

The board of NFF during this period, and despite the speculation that was rife in the media, the pressure created by a lot of untruths and rumours peddled by sections of the public, remained resolute in its desire to think long term and ensure that as administrators, the appointment of the Coach of the Super Eagles was part of a holistic strategy and not a knee jerk reaction to yearnings of the public.

It is now left for Keshi to prove to Nigerians how good a coach he is on the job, following current doubts among most football fans over his competence.