Nigeria coach drops resignation as team comes home
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Returning to Nigeria as the man who led the Super Eagles to victory at the African Cup of Nations, coach Stephen Keshi smiled and waved Tuesday to screaming fans, without a mention of the fact he publicly announced his resignation less than a day earlier.
The previous 24 hours saw the Nigeria Football Federation and the nation's sports minister negotiate with the aggrieved Keshi, who said he turned in his resignation immediately after the Super Eagles' 1-0 win over Burkina Faso in Sunday's final. While a statement from the federation on behalf of Keshi said the coach had taken back his resignation letter, it settled none of the outstanding questions about the future of a team now heading into June's Confederations Cup in Brazil.
Keshi made the resignation announcement Monday night in an interview on Metro FM, a radio station run by South Africa's state broadcaster. The coach's displeasure with the football federation had been hinted at for days. Keshi has previously said he has not received his salary payments on time from the federation, and has not been given his official accommodations or a staff car promised to him.
The tipping point for the coach appeared to be when federation officials allegedly threatened to fire him just prior to Nigeria's quarterfinal against Ivory Coast. On Monday night, Keshi said federation officials tried to tell him which players to have on the field and on the bench at games and didn't treat him with respect.
"I would love to stay, but the condition of working ... there's too many people telling you what to do, what not to do. There's a lot of interference," Keshi said. "In my country, I'm a Nigerian, so they think we must tell him what to do, even if they're not there at the training session."
Keshi's remarks sparked emergency meetings through Monday night. By the time Keshi and the Super Eagles boarded a chartered flight Tuesday morning to Nigeria's capital, Abuja, the federation issued a statement on his behalf saying he had taken back his resignation letter.
"While I have had cause to express my displeasure over some issues that happened in the course of our participation in the AFCON (African Cup of Nations) 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," the statement quoted Keshi as saying. "I am therefore pleased to say that I have reconsidered my position and have decided to continue with my job."
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