9 October 2014 18:24
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi is giving Saturday’s clash with Sudan his full attention despite continuing speculation over his future.
Keshi stepped down after the World Cup campaign in Brazil, in which Nigeria exited in the last 16 to France, before being re-appointed in August.
It was announced that Keshi would take charge for Nigeria’s opening two Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers before discussing a new contract but after those games – a 3-2 defeat to Congo and a 0-0 draw with South Africa – his situation remains unclear.
With defending champions Nigeria sitting third in qualifying Group A, they are in desperate need of maximum points from the weekend’s encounter in Khartoum.
“Nigeria is not the last team for me to coach,” Keshi said. “There are plenty of teams out there. Some are showing interest in me and I thank God.
“The most important thing for me in my career right now is to win in Sudan. After that, it is up to the NFF [Nigerian Football Federation] or whoever is in charge to decide.
“Let me win my games on Saturday and from there let us see what happens. If I finish qualifying and we go to Morocco, as long as Nigeria qualifies then I will know what’s next.”
Keshi has been criticised in some quarters for leaving big names out of his squad, but the boss retaliated this week, explaining that Villarreal’s Ikechukwu Uche had snubbed the chance to return to the set-up.
The visitors will be without midfielder Michael Babatunde, who has a knee problem, although Keshi is hopeful he will return when the two sides meet again in Nigeria on Wednesday.
The clash will take place on an artificial surface at Khartoum Stadium after it was moved from the initial venue in Omdurman, and the hosts are seeking their first points of the campaign.
Mohamed Abdallah’s men are yet to even find the net in the group stage, after a 3-0 home defeat to South Africa was followed up by a 2-0 loss against Congo.
Since winning the Cup of Nations in 1970, Sudan have featured in just four tournaments, getting to the quarter-finals in 2012.
But defeat for Abdallah’s side on Saturday will leave their 2015 qualification hopes hanging by a thread.