Despite winning the Africa Cup of Nations in February and leading Nigeria to within one game of qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, head coach Stephen Keshi claimed he has not been paid in seven months. He told the BBC on Thursday that it is “the lowest point of my career.”
“I have never had this kind of experience before,” said Keshi, who coached Togo and Mali before taking the Nigeria job in 2011. “In Mali, they will never owe you. Your salary will hit your account before the end of every month. It was the same thing in Togo.”
The Nigerian Football Federation is having serious money problems, as it also owes back pay to assistant coach Daniel Amokachi and goalkeeper coach Ike Shorunmu. The NFF receives its funding from the Nigerian sports ministry.
However, the federation has stated that bonuses and allowances have not been withheld, and those should be enough for the coaches to pay living expenses.
“If there is any NFF member who said we can work for free, then I will want to speak with him face to face,” Keshi said. “I will be in debt because I have not been paid for seven months, and somebody is saying we should not complain.”
Nigeria defeated Ethiopia, 2-1, in the first leg of African World Cup qualification playoffs on Oct. 13 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, behind two goals from Emmanuel Emenike. The second leg is set for Nov. 16 in Calabar, Nigeria, and an anonymous source with the NFF told the BBC that the coaches’ pay problems would hopefully be resolved by then.
“It’s embarrassing to be dealing with something like this ahead of a crucial game,” the source said. “Sadly, our terrible financial situation is solely responsible for this. We are hopeful this will be resolved before the game against Ethiopia.”