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NFF And Stephen Keshi: The Crash of A Forced Marriage

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The recent sack of Stephen Keshi as the head coach of the Super Eagles by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) eventually brought to an end the unhealthy relationship between the football governing body and the sweat merchant.
To keen followers of the events regarding the former Super Eagles skipper and his employers, the decision of the NFF to part ways with Keshi late last Saturday was long expected going by events leading to the renewal of the coach’s contract and the development that followed.
For the records, it took the Amaju Pinnick led board of the NFF to hand the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winning coach a new contract which was supposed to run for two years.
But barely two months into that, the two parties have ended their romance prematurely, making it the second time the same board is dismissing the coach.
Still fresh in office, the Amaju Pinnick led board had wielded the big stick last year, sacking the coach but had the decision overturned by the then President Goodluck Jonathan who ordered the immediate reinstatement of the sweat merchant.
From then on, there has never been a good relationship between the two parties as they were managing each other in the process, the long delay in renewing the coach’s contract which had expired since July 2014 was pointer to that.
On many occasions, the board had fixed dates for the signing of a new contract but expectant Nigerian football followers always get the up in the morning, only to hear another story.
At a point in time, the position of Keshi appeared vacant as the coach was out of discouragement forced to step aside, waiting on the NFF to take its decision. The then assistant coach, Daniel the bull Amokachie all the while stood in the gap for the big boss.
Keshi’s problem with his employees dates back to 2014 when Alhaji Aminu Maigari was the President of the NFF.
Despite winning the 2013 AFCON, a feat that could said to have even worsen their relationship instead of cementing it and despite leading the Eagles to the second round of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the relationship between the partners had been unhealthy and this was passed onto the new board which have some board members of the Maigari regime.
Before the two parties eventually agreed to settle down and agreed on a new contract, there were issues ranging from the allegation of slave contract which was raised by the coach among others issues.
At this point, football followers, administrators, coaches and players as well as sport journalists were forced to speak out, calling on the NFF to show seriousness and decide on whether to renew Keshi’s contract or tell him to go.
While this was going on, the ex international was linked with jobs from other countries which he unfortunately could not get and was therefore condemned to wait on the NFF to make its decision.
When a new deal was eventually struck few months ago, it was glaring that it was a forced marriage that had taken place as the peace expected to reign between the coach and his employees was nowhere to be found, instead, things went the other way round.
They both had issues on the list of players to be invited to the national team with the NFF insisting that its technical department headed by Amodu Shaibu be scrutinized by the body.
The straw that eventually broke the camel’s back was the decision of Keshi to include a non league player in the lineup of the Eagles that faced Chad in the 2017 AFCON qualifier played at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna.
The coach was not only queried for dressing up the player for the encounter, he was questioned to explain why the player was handed the famous jersey number 10 which the NFF argued was meant for great players.
Having noticed that that issue did not hold enough water to deal with gaffer, the NFF changed gear and found a loophole, alleging that Keshi flouted its rules by applying for the job of the Ivorian national side when he was still in charge of the Super Eagles.
In spite of the coach’s denial in front of the disciplinary committee of the soccer governing body, the NFF would not turn back from what many considered to be an already decided matter as the disciplinary committee crucified the coach and recommended his sack which the executive committee did not even reconsider before rubber stamping it and in the process terminated Keshi’s appointment, thereby bringing to an end the forced marriage between the two parties.
Numerous reactions have since greeted the development and as expected, divided opinion reigned as some says it was a well taken decision while some others thought otherwise.
To some others, Keshi should carry the blame of whatever might have befell him as far as the issue is concerned, saying that he ought to have even resigned long time ago having seen the hand writing on the wall that he was not in the good book of the NFF.

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