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Keshi Drops Out Of Cote d’Ivoire Coaching Race

Oladipo Okubanjo

Stephen Keshi’s name was conspicuously missing among the five coaches shortlisted for further screening for coaching job of the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire, but this w o u l d not deter the N i g e r i a Football Fed e r a – tion (NFF) from forgi n g a h e a d with its investigat ion into the circums t a n c e s u r – rounding the a p – pearance o f K e – shi’s name on the initial list.

The Super Eagles coach has had to be queried and made to appear before a disciplinary committee to explain whether he actually applied or was merely shortlisted for the Cote d’Ivoire job when he already has a contract with the NFF. The disciplinary committee had after interrogating Keshi announced suspension of its verdict pending further investigation in Cote d’Ivoire.

However, the Football Federation in Cote d’Ivoire on Tuesday announced that after the examination of 59 applications, including Keshi’s, a FIFA-appointed committee selected Portuguese coach Paulo Duarte, Polish manager Henryk Kasperczak and the French trio of Patrice Neveu, Frédéric Antonetti and Michel Dussuyer.

Antonetti, a former coach of French Ligue 1 sides Bastia, Saint- Etienne, Nice and Rennes, is the only selected candidate with no continental experience. CS Sfaxien manager, Duarte, has previously been in charge of Burkina Faso and Gabon, Neveu of Niger, Guinea, DR Congo and Mauritania, Kasperczak of Côte d’Ivoire, Tunisia, Morocco, Mali and Senegal, and Dussuyer of Guinea and Benin.

The five-man shortlist will further be reduced to three ahead of the final appointment. The lucky appointee will replace Hervé Renard, who quit the Ivorian job after lead the Elephants to their first African Cup of Nations title in 23 years   in Equatorial Guinea in February.

The NFF, it was learnt, has already budgeted the sum of $7, 000 for the trip of its fact-finding delegation to Cote d’Ivoire, where officials will meet with their Ivorian counterparts with a view to ascertaining how Keshi’s name got onto the initial list of coaches penciled down for the Elephants job. Not a few former Nigeria internationals have lampooned the NFF for threatening to sanction Keshi over the issue, with two former teammates of the coach Sunday Oliseh and Austin Eguavoen describing it as unwarranted.

A former coach of the Super Eagles, Christian Chukwu had also averred that the NFF should have made it an internal issue. Meanwhile, Ogenyi Onazi, the Super Eagles’ midfielder who was fined $5000 by the NFF for the disorderly conduct that earned him a red card during last month’s 2017 Nations Cup qualifier against the Les Sao of Chad, has said he was making efforts to contact the federation in order to resolve the issue.

“I really don’t have anything to say other than to smile about it and to assure that we are going to resolve it amicably,” said the 22-year-old Lazio player. “I expect that this issue is not something that is supposed to be in the public space like that but as it is, we are going to resolve this in a better way. I have communicated with them and so everything will be fine”

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