Former Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi created national panic when he resigned from his role in charge of the Super Eagles just hours after they won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.
The 53-year-old has now given reasons why he took the crucial decision that threw Nigeria into disarray and made the country’s leaders run helter skelter late in the night to get him to rescind his decision.
Moments earlier, Sunday Mba’s 40th minute goal had seen the Eagles edge Burkina Faso to win their third Afcon crown, the first since Keshi captained the team to the title 19 years before in Tunisia.
While giving reasons for his resignation, the former defender said that many people were interested in his job in South Africa, therefore undermining his work.
“Too many problems. People were not doing their jobs and they wanted to do my job for me. So, I decided to resign and let somebody else do the job. Too many people were talking; too many people wanted to coach, wanted to decide for you. And I said okay let them have the job,” Keshi said in a revealing interview with The Cable, days after burying his late wife.
“They were not there to know how we suffered there. We were neglected. How we were abused. They didn’t have to say anything. After abusing us and cursing us like we were babies, we just said that was it. It is football; someone else will come and start it. So, I decided to let go at that point.”
Nigeria began the tournament with two draws – both 1-1 games against Burkina Faso and Zambia – leading to pressure on Keshi and his technical crew from the Nigeria Football Federation, journalists and fans back home.
The team went on to win their crucial third group game against Ethiopia (2-0), before stopping tournament favourites Cote d’Ivoire 2-1 in the quarter final, and a 4-1 mauling of Mali in the semi final reunited them with group stage opponents Burkina Faso, which they won by the odd goal.
And then Keshi announced his resignation on a Johannesburg radio station before the celebrations had petered out.
“All that happened in South Africa. All the threats happened in South Africa, South Africa was where the AFCON took place, it was in the same South Africa that they wanted to sack us after two games, where they were insulting us, so I might have ended it in South Africa. So, why do I have to take it to Nigeria – to do what?,” he continued
Keshi recalled that the NFF were ready to strip him of his duties in a foreign land while the tournament was still on.
“They should have allowed us to finish our tournament and announce sack or no sack. They were not ready to do that but rather during the tournament. Why is it that it is when Keshi did his that everyone started talking? But when the NFF was doing their own, nobody said anything,” he concluded.
After announcing his resignation, he was prevailed upon to return and he eventually took the Super Eagles to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil where the team reached the Round of 16, the first time since 1998.
However, Keshi would be finally shown the way out following the Eagles’ failure to qualify for the 2015 Afcon that took place in Equatorial Guinea.