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NFF rejects Keshi’s plea for assistants’ recall


The Nigeria Football Federation on Tuesday turned down the plea by Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi for his assistants who were relieved of their positions last month to be reinstated. Keshi’s plea was part of the discussion at the meeting held in the office of the Minister of Sports Bolaji Abdullahi with the NFF to chart a fresh course after weeks of animosity between both sides.

On Tuesday, NFF top officials, led by their president Aminu Maigari, and Keshi met for about three hours at the instant of the minister to iron out several disagreements that made huge headlines since Nigeria won the African cup in February. It was learnt on authority that Keshi who apologised to the minister and the NFF for his role in the disagreements asked for the recall of Sylvanus Okpala and Valare Houandinou as part of his own bargain. Both assistants were sacked by the NFF while Keshi was on break in the United States as the federation insisted it was needed as cost-saving measure.

An official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter confirmed that the sacking of Okpala and Houandinou was raised at the meeting.

He said, “Keshi raised the matter with the hope that the NFF could concede to him and it was discussed extensively but it was turned down. The NFF officials explained that it was a very tough decision for them, that they had no choice but to stand on it if the national teams are to be properly run. They made it clear they were not going back on that decision to cut down on the backroom staff.”

On Wednesday the Executive Committee of the NFF led by Maigari met in Abuja and approved the recommendation of the Technical Sub-Committee for the appointment of Shaibu Amodu as national technical director. The appointments of Kashimawo Laloko and James Peters as his assistants were also approved.

The NFF also resolved that Nigeria will now participate in the qualifying series for the 2014 African Nations Championship “in order to encourage and give opportunity to home-based professional players who have been part of coach Stephen Keshi’s rebuilding process all along.”

NFF had announced last month that Nigeria would no longer participate in the competition but did not formally write to the Confederation of African Football to state that they had withdrawn from the competition set aside for players featuring in African leagues.

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