Confusion reigns over the future of Stephen Keshi after reports he quit his post as Nigeria coach – hours after guiding his side to African Cup of Nations success.
The 52-year-old Super Eagles coach went on South African radio to say he had given the Nigerian Football Federation his letter of resignation after Sunday night’s 1-0 win over Burkina Faso.
But amid mixed answers from the NFF whether the coach – who had hinted at quitting his post during the tournament – was staying on, Keshi then issued a statement saying he had reconsidered his future and would be staying with the national team.
The situation casts a shadow over a planned presidential dinner for the cup-winning players and staff in Nigeria tonight – at which Keishi and senior NFF officials are expected to attend.
Keshi appeared on a South African radio station last night, and said he had informed the NFF of his decision following the match.
Presenter Robert Marawa tweeted: “Stephen Keshi has just announced that he handed over his resignation letter after the game exclusively on 083Sport@6 With Marawa on MetroFM“.
Keshi had revealed tensions between himself and the NFF before the semi-finals of the tournament, telling a press conference he would “pack his bags and leave” if he felt unwanted.
According to reports, Nigerian officials had booked a flight home for the squad, due to depart immediately after their quarter-final against tournament favourites Ivory Coast – seen by Keshi as a vote of no confidence.
Nigeria won the match 2-1.
But hours later, Keshi issued a statement withdrawing his resignation from the job, and thanking the country’s sports minister, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, for intervening.
He said in the statement: “While I have had cause to express my displeasure over some issues that happened in the course of our participation in the AFCON 2013, which my team won by the grace of God, especially concerning my relationship with the Nigerian Football Federation, I have since had opportunity to discuss the various issues with all concerned.
“I am therefore pleased to say that I have reconsidered my position and have decided to continue with my job.”
Reports from Nigeria claim the country’s president had made contact with Keshi to convince them to change his mind, with the player unhappy over the failure to pay players and himself before and during the tournament.
The NFF had denied receiving Keshi’s resignation, with spokesman Emeka Inyama telling Sports Tonight: “As I speak with you the NFF has not received any letter of resignation from Keshi, he’s still Super Eagles’ manager until there is a formal letter from him to the contrary.
“Keshi has a running contract with the NFF, he just won the Nations Cup title which we last won 19 years ago and everybody is happy with him.
“We believe Keshi and his team will be physically present at the reception, so let’s wait for the reception.”