Nigerians were given a jolt from their euphoric celebrations over winning the African Cup of Nations on Sunday with the sudden resignation of Coach Stephen Keshi on Monday.
Keshi who is scheduled to return with his players to Nigeria today was first quoted in South Africa as having resigned his position as the manager of the Nigerian team despite winning the continental tourney on Sunday with a 1-0 defeat of Burkina Faso in the final match.
He announced his resignation on a South African radio show on Monday evening, saying he handed in his resignation on Sunday night.
“I gave them (Nigeria Football Federation) my letter of resignation immediately after last night’s game, but I haven’t heard from them yet,” Keshi told Metro FM on Monday night.
The Eagles Media Officer, Ben Alaiya, on Monday night confirmed that Keshi indeed resigned in a terse response by text that simply said, “It is true.”
Immediately the rumours started circulating, the Presidency got in touch with the ex-national team captain directly, where he confirmed his resignation and told them that he was only awaiting the response of the NFF officials.
A top source in the Presidency said the matter had been taken up immediately, and Keshi had been prevailed upon to withdraw his resignation and continue with his job, which he agreed.
The official said, “Yes, it is very true that Keshi resigned his position as coach of the Eagles. That he confirmed to us. It was quite alarming given the complaints he brought up. There were a lot on things going on that the nation didn’t know.
“He informed us about backlog of salaries, his official car that has only been on paper since he took office. Even in South Africa, money was a lot of issue. It is appalling but the key thing is that Keshi has calmed down and has agreed to continue as the coach of Nigeria.”
Apart from his car and salary, we learnt that the Eagles coach complained bitterly of not getting the cash due him in South Africa during the Nations Cup. He also complained that his players were being owed a lot of money as the promises were more on the pages of the newspapers than being fulfilled.
Efforts to reach Keshi failed last night.
Also, the NFF has not issued a response on the matter as its Chief Media Officer, Ademola Olajire, did not respond to email inquiries.
However, a former national team goalkeeper who is now based in South Africa, Idah Peterside, confirmed the resignation on Twitter.
Idah tweeted, “Yes, he told me so, he would resign on Saturday, spent some time with him. Will give you reasons why he quit tomorrow.”
It was learnt that the matter caused the NFF to convene an emergency meeting of its members on Monday.
Nigeria caused a slight upset by winning the tournament as they were not amongst the competition favourites.
They began to gain massive public support after beating strong contenders, Ivory Coast at the quarter-finals.
Prior to that, the Eagles had come under a lot of pressure from NFF officials when it looked like they were not going to go past the group stages.
Before the last group match against Ethiopia the NFF had issued an official press release stating that Keshi had “no excuse for failure.”
But the Super Eagles then defeated Ethiopia to qualify for the next stage and that calmed a lot of nerves.
Keshi in one of his reactions afterwards said he was virtually on the sack list until the tide turned for him.
“Nobody believed in me. They were sure that this team would not get anywhere and they wanted to sack me during the competition,” he said.
Keshi is expected to fly back with the team today for the Tuesday night reception holding at the Presidential Villa, irrespective of the situation.