Stephen Keshi on Tuesday agreed to a new two-year contract to coach Nigeria’s national men’s football team, ending months of uncertainty and speculation over his future.
Some opposed extending Keshi’s tenure as the Super Eagles coach after they failed to qualify for the recent Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea.
Talks on a renewal also stalled in February when Keshi described Nigeria’s extension offer as a “slave contract”. But the 53-year-old called for a fresh start on Tuesday at an official signing ceremony, saying any lingering bitterness needed to be put in the past.
“This is the time for us to come together to fight for this nation,” Keshi said, adding: “I am begging you all to please put the past behind and let’s start afresh.”
Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) technical committee chairman Felix Anyansi-Agwu also described Keshi’s second stint as coach as “a new beginning”.
“The entire (NFF) board has absolute confidence in the capacity of Stephen Keshi to take the Super Eagles to new heights,” he told reporters.
Keshi’s initial contract of three years ran out after last year’s World Cup in Brazil, where Nigeria reached the last 16 knockout stages. He had previously steered the side to a win at the 2013 African championships, raising his profile in Africa’s most populous nation after a string disappointments at the continent’s top tournament.
The NFF was engulfed in controversy last year, including over Keshi’s status and irregularities that marred a vote to choose the federation’s new leaders. FIFA was forced to step in, warning that Nigeria could be disqualified from international competition if the NFF failed to clean up its act.