Nigeria hired former defender Stephen Keshi as head coach of its national team Wednesday, five days after firing Samson Siasia following the failure to qualify for the African Cup of Nations.
The Nigeria Football Federation appointed the 49-year-old Keshi, who was captain when Nigeria made its World Cup debut in 1994, to try and bring together a team demoralized following a string of scandals and disappointments in the past two years.
His hiring comes after the federation fired Siasia on Friday. Siasia’s team drew with Guinea in the final round of qualifiers to miss out on the tournament, leading the federation to demand an explanation for what it called ”the embarrassment brought to the nation.”
Despite Siasia offering a public apology, fans angry with a string of failures by the national team demanded his removal, as did federation officials.
Ironically, Keshi was fired as Togo coach in 2006 after the team failed to qualify for the African Cup. He coached Mali’s national team this year, which also failed to qualify for the tournament.
Keshi was part of Nigeria’s team that won the African Cup in 1994. He also played professionally in Belgium.
On Wednesday, Siasia told The Associated Press he was suing the football federation for a breach of contract. Musa Amadu, the federation’s secretary general, declined to comment on the suit.
Nigeria once dominated football in Africa but its reputation has slid in recent years amid poor play and corruption scandals. The team was knocked out of the World Cup last year after losing two group matches and scraping a 2-2 draw with South Korea.
After the World Cup, investigators accused former federation president Sani Lulu, ex-vice president Amanze Ugbulam, former technical committee member Taiwo Ogunjobi and ex-general secretary Bolaji Ojo-Oba of embezzling more than $6 million in tournament funding.
Meanwhile, Amos Adamu, a former Nigerian government sports minister, received a three-year ban from FIFA after allegedly demanding bribes to influence his vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.