Nigeria : Keshi keeps the board!

The Nigeria Football Association has said it has no rift with Super Eagles head coach, Stephen Keshi , adding that the dismissal of Keshi’s assistant coaches will not deter the team as they prepare for their upcoming world cup qualifiers against Kenya on June 5 and Namibia on June 12.

Captain Joseph Yobo had a public spat with coach Stephen Keshi last week after reacting angrily to being omitted from the squad that drew 1-1 against Kenya in a World Cup qualifier at home in March.

It follows criticism of Keshi from Nigeria strikers Peter Odemwingie and Emmanuel Emenike, who also felt they had been treated badly.

The NFF has mandated its technical committee to wade into the three-way dispute, and a member of that group says they have resolved to call a meeting involving all three.

“The public fall-out has created a very difficult situation. We are well aware that a divided house won’t help the team,” former Nigeria international Victor Ikpeba told BBC Sport.  The major problem has to do with management, in life there’s always disagreement but we need to sort it and not apportion blame. We plan to resolve this crisis affecting the team, it’s a work in progress and the absence of the coach [presently in the United States] has slowed things down.”

Victor Ikpeba, who won the 1994 African Cup of Nations and the 1996 Olympics gold, explained that the coach makes the call but feels older players still have a role to play in the squad.

“Some new players are coming through the ranks but older players still have a role to play too,  the 1997 African footballer of the year said. No one is interested in meddling in player selections or decisions taken by the coach, because that is his job.”

Ikpeba who represented the Super Eagles at the 1994 and 1998 World Cup has called for better communication between the Nigeria coaching staff and players.

“Personally, the issue of Yobo and others relates to communication, and this is very essential in building a strong team.”

In another move aimed at slashing costs the NFF has cut salaries and bonuses for their players and coaches.

They have also restructured the team’s 17 backroom staff, with several members losing their jobs this week.