The Nigeria Football Federation said Tuesday that national coach Stephen Keshi has rescinded his resignation and negotiations continue between the two sides following the team’s win at the African Cup of Nations.
Keshi and the Super Eagles, who beat Burkina Faso 1-0 Sunday to win the African Cup for the first time in 19 years, are due to return Tuesday to celebrations and a presidential gala in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. Keshi’s resignation, which he publicly announced on a South African radio station Monday night, served as yet another major embarrassment for the country’s football regime, which has been surrounded by allegations of corruption and mismanagement for years.
The federation issued a statement early Tuesday morning, labeled as being on behalf of Keshi, saying the coach 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.”
The statement said Keshi thanked Nigeria’s Sports Minister Bolaji Abdullahi for “his swift and kind intervention.” Abdullahi did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday from The Associated Press.
Keshi’s displeasure with the football federation had been hinted at for days. In an interview Monday with Metro FM, a radio station run by South Africa’s state broadcaster, Keshi said he turned in his resignation immediately following Nigeria’s win over Burkina Faso at Soccer City in Johannesburg.
Keshi told Metro FM his decision step down stemmed from his anger over federation officials threatening to fire him just prior to Nigeria’s quarterfinal against Ivory Coast.
The resignation threat means Keshi will now start negotiations with Nigerian officials over what it will take for him to stay on to coach the 52nd-ranked Super Eagles, whose win Sunday sent them into the first-round group with Spain, Uruguay and Tahiti at June’s Confederations Cup in Brazil.
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.
Keshi was Nigeria captain when it won the African Cup of Nations in 1994. The former central defender was the first black African coach in more than 20 years to win the tournament. He earned his chance with Nigeria’s national team after spells in charge of Mali and Togo, and also as an assistant coach when Nigeria last made the final, in 2000.