Former Super Eagles captain and coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi (31 January 1961 – 7 June 2016) was a no nonsense defender whose passion on the pitch during his playing days was infectious. He was also a football coach of the Nigeria national team. He was one of only two people, along with Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary, to have won the Africa Cup of Nations as both a player and a coach.
His professional career
1979 ACB Lagos
1980–1984 New Nigeria Bank
1985 Stade d’Abidjan
1986 Africa Sports
1991–1993 RC Strasbourg
1995 CCV Hydra
1996 Sacramento Scorpions
1997–1998 Perlis FA
Between 2004 and 2006 Keshi coached the Togo national football team, surprisingly bringing them to their first World Cup tournament, Germany 2006.
Having secured Togo’s unlikely qualification, he was promptly replaced by German coach Otto Pfister prior to the World Cup finals, after Togo showed a dismal performance and failed to advance to the knock-out stage in 2006 African Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Togo re-engaged Keshi in February 2007 and remained their coach till 2008.
He worked as manager of the Mali national football team, after being appointed in April 2008 on a two-year deal. Keshi was sacked in January 2010, after Mali’s early exit in the group stages of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Keshi became coach of the Nigerian National Team in 2011. He led Nigeria to qualification for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, which they went on to win, defeating Burkina Faso 1–0 in the final
On 16 November 2013, Stephen keshi set a record in African football by being the first African coach to successfully qualify two African nations (Nigeria and Togo) to the World Cup Finals. Keshi’s Nigeria secured qualification to the 2014 World Cup by beating Ethiopia 4–1 on aggregate in a play-off. He also helped Nigeria become the first country to achieve an African Cup of Nations trophy and World Cup qualification, both in 2013.
On 25 June 2014, Keshi’s Nigeria progressed to the knockout stage of 2014 World Cup. They started the tournament with a 0-0 draw against Iran, followed by a controversial 1-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina. They lost the final group stage match 2-3 against Argentina, but progressed to the knockout stage, courtesy of a 3-1 win by Bosnia and Herzegovina over Iran. On 30 June 2014, the Super Eagles lost to France in a 2014 World Cup Round of 16 match.
In July 2015, Keshi’s contract with the Nigerian Football Federation expired and was not renewed.
- Daniel Fayemi for encomium.ng