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Inside Stephen Keshi’s funeral


Burial rites for the late former coach ‎of the Super Eagles and captain,  Stephen Keshi,  started yesterday (July 28, 2016) with a funeral mass at St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Airport Road, Benin, Edo State.

There was also a lying-in-state ceremony which was followed by a novelty match involving football veterans at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City.

Keshi died on June 8‎ in Benin at the age of 54, months after the end of his four-year spell as coach of the Super Eagles.

He was one of the only two people to have won the African Cup of Nations both as player and as coach in 1994 and 2013, after Mahmoud El-Gohary of Egypt.

The novelty match which was organized by the Nigeria Football Federation, the Edo State Football Association and the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, featured ex-Super Eagles players, including Mutiu Adepoju, Austin Eguavoen and Uche Okechukwu, Peter Rufai and Victor Ikepba, in a game that saw the ex–internationals and All-Stars play in honour of Stephen Keshi. The match ended 1-1.

The body was later taken to Asaba, the Delta State capital, and laid in state inside the Indoor Hall of the Keshi Stadium, named after the legend by former Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.

Another church service is scheduled for the hometown of the legend, in Illah, Delta State, today (Friday, July 29) ­before internment. Reception will take place at the Omorka Primary School in the serene town.

A delegation to the Funeral rites led by the President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick includes  former Super Eagles coach, Fanny Amun, Chairman of the Edo State Football Association, Frank Ilaboya, among others.

Former team mates of the late football icon, including Austin Eguavoen are also present to bid their former colleague good bye.

Keshi captained the Senior National Team for 11 years, during which he won the Africa Cup of Nations gold, silver and bronze.

In 2013, as Coach of the Super Eagles, Keshi lifted the Cup of Nations again after Nigeria defeated Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final at Soccer city in Johannesburg.

As the head coach of the Super Eagles, Keshi also took the team to the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup, led the team to the FIFA Confederations Cup and qualified Nigeria for the African Nations Championship for the first time, where he finished third.

-Olalekan Olonilua for

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