New NFF boss, Pinnick has no love for Keshi, but Big Boss vows to carry on with the job

by Mark Bassey

The new President of the Nigerian Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, is not so fond of the gaffer of the Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi.

Pinnick, before emerging the NFF boss, had granted an interview with Vanguard, where he said Keshi’s performance at the Brazil world cup, proved that he had reached the limit of his abilities, and lacked the technical know-how to lead the team forward.

He said, “I like Keshi as a person, but the Eagles run-up to the World Cup and their first game (vs Iran) has proved to me that Keshi has reached his limit. He is a national hero. I celebrate him for all he has achieved with the team in such a short time, but it appears he can’t move the Eagles forward unless he improves on his abilities.”

Pinnick also harped on the disregard for a scientific approach in Nigeria’s matches by the coaching crew, at the recently concluded FIFA world cup.

“We failed to go further in Brazil because our coaches did not adopt the scientific approach to winning matches. Football has gone beyond having a coaching crew on the bench. The trend now is to have the technical back-room staff, peopled by expert coaches, who win matches from the bench,” he added.

Meanwhile, Keshi recently stated that he would be taking charge of Eagles’ game against Sudan, based on the agreement he had with the Sports Minister, Tammy Danagogo. He told BBC Sport that he wil continue as coach of the senior national team, pending the time, he hears from the new NFF board.

He said, “I’m still working based on the previous arrangement agreed with the Sports Minister Tamuno Danagogo. I’ve not heard from the new NFF board because elections only happened on Tuesday so it is not a problem. My immediate focus is on the important matches against Sudan this month because it is very crucial for us to win both games. I have named a squad strong enough for these games and the plan is to get the players together early enough to prepare. When you take care of business on the pitch then other things will be secondary.”

Keshi’s contract expired after the World Cup, and negotiations have repeatedly stalled following the crisis that engulfed the glass house and the coach’s refusal to agree on new contractual terms.

Nigeria’s AFCON qualifiers performance, so far, has been poor, following a defeat by Congo and a draw with South Africa. The Super Eagles are third in Group A, with only the top two teams guaranteed a place at the finals.

Keshi is expected to oversee the must-win away match at Sudan, on 11 October, and the return fixture on 15 October, in Abuja.

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