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Nigeria coach tells radio he quit

Nigeria's head coach Stephen Keshi
Nigeria's head coach Stephen Keshi told a radio station he quit.
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JOHANNESBURG (AP)

A South African radio station reported Monday that Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi handed in his resignation after Sunday's victory in the African Cup of Nations final.

South Africa's Metro FM said Keshi told the station in an interview that his decision came from his anger over federation officials threatening to fire him just prior to Nigeria's quarterfinal against Ivory Coast.

Keshi could not be immediately reached for comment. Super Eagles spokesman Ben Alaiya told the AP late Monday he didn't know if Keshi had resigned.

''I have not been able to talk to him and I have not spoken to the leadership to have information on what is really happening,'' Alaiya said.

Nigeria's Sports Minister Bolaji Abdullahi declined to immediately comment. It was not clear whether the football federation would immediately accept Keshi's resignation or would try to negotiate with him behind closed doors to get him to stay. Keshi had said he had not received his salary payments on time from the federation, and had not been given his official accommodations or a staff car promised to him.

Keshi was the Super Eagles' captain when they won the African Cup of Nations in 1994, their last title before beating Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final in Johannesburg on Sunday.

Keshi, a former central defender, was the first black African coach to win the tournament. He earned his chance with Nigeria's national team after spells in charge of Mali and Togo and also as an assistant coach when the Super Eagles last made the final, in 2000.

When he took over the top job after Nigeria's failure to qualify for the 2012 edition, and following a dismal 2010 World Cup, little was expected of the team.

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Speaking to journalists Sunday night, Keshi hinted at the troubles facing him and other coaches in Africa.

''If only we can understand how these things work, then we can grow better in Africa,'' the coach said. ''Most of the coaches are not given freedom to work, and express themselves. They hold back a little bit.''

With its victory Sunday, 52nd-ranked Nigeria advanced to a first-round group with Spain, Uruguay and Tahiti at June's Confederations Cup in Brazil. Keshi's resignation could have a big impact on a team many had given up on before the coach rallied them to win.

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