As Jonathan quashes NFF’s sack order
By Gbenga Jolaosho
Coach Stephen Keshi has said he is prepared to return to take charge of the Super Eagles following the reversal of his sack by President Goodluck Jonathan.
During a reconciliatory meeting with the warring factions of the Nigeria Football Federation on Wednesday night at the Aso Villa, President Jonathan demanded the immediate reinstatement of Keshi as the team head coach after he was earlier sacked by the Amaju Pinnik-led NFF Board.
The former Togo and Mali national team coach was sacked penultimate week following his team’s 3-1 win over Sudan for poor start to the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers where the Eagles have only picked up four points out of a possible 12 in the Group A thereby leaving the team on the brink.
And when asked if he was aware of the Presidential order on Thursday in Abuja, Keshi told the media: “Well I am just hearing from you. But if the President of my country asked me to return, who am I to refuse. The President of the country is the father of the nation so it’s difficult to turn him down.”
The 52-year old also added that the team needs peace to concentrate on the next games against Congo and South Africa which are must wins for Eagles if they are to defend their Afcon trophy in Morocco next year.
“We all want peace in this country and we all want peace for the team and that is very crucial for the players. They need to have a settled mind to play for Nigeria without the usual quarreling and fighting but let me think,” Keshi said.
Blueprint Sport however gathered that Chris Giwa was instrumental in Keshi’s return, as he had earlier said Keshi remained the Super Eagles coach shortly after the Federal High Court Jos annulled the Warri election that produced Pinnick as the NFF president.
It was also gathered that during a meeting on Wednesday night between the President and the two factional presidents of the NFF, Amaju Pinnick and Chris Giwa, in a bid to resolve the logjam currently bedeviling Nigeria football, Pinnick who sacked Keshi as boss of the Super Eagles was instructed by the President to reinstate the big boss.
Blueprint Sport’s source added that Kehi’s reinstatement was favoured by “the policy of the current administration which forbids the hiring of foreign expatriate in any area of Nigeria interest and only the President can give a waiver to the NFF to hire the foreign coach they wanted since it’s government they will still want to depend on in paying the salaries of such foreigner.”
As at the time of filling this report the ‘Big Boss’ as Keshi is fondly called was locked in a meeting with the country’s sports minister, Tammy Danagogo, with a view giving him the president’s backing and assurances, but this was after he had met with NFF president Amaju Pinnick and Chris Giwa at the Aso Rock Villa Wednesday night.
Nigeria needs to win their two remaining qualifiers against Congo and South Africa next month to seal a spot at the finals of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations as defending champions.