Liberia FA Consoles Nigeria Over Deaths of Keshi and Shaibu
Monrovia - The Liberia Football Association (LFA) says it has been left distraught by the close deaths of two successful Nigerian coaches, who passed on with days of each other.
Shaibu Amodu died at the age of 58 on June 11 while Stephen Keshi died at the age of 54 on June 8, both from cardiac arrest.
In a message to Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President Amaju Pinnick, LFA President Musa Hassan Bility extended heartfelt condolences to the NFF, Nigerians at home and abroad and the bereaved families and love ones for the irreparable losses on behalf of the LFA executive committee and Liberians.
"As the people of Nigeria mourn the losses of two great [former] footballers, coaches and patriotic sons, I pray that God Almighty will continue to strengthen you during this period," Bility was quoted in a press release on the FA’s Facebook page.
Bility prays that Pinnick will have the courage and fortitude to accept the reality with renew hope and a deep sense of confidence that their deaths will continue to strengthen football in Nigeria.
Keshi earned more than 60 caps for Nigeria and won the 1994 Nations Cup, although injury prevented him from playing in the final against Zambia.
He made two appearances, including as captain for their semi-final win over Ivory Coast on penalties, but then Nigeria coach Clemens Westerhof refused to risk playing him in the final.
Later that year, Keshi was part of Nigeria's squad at the World Cup in the United States but another injury meant he played only once in the final group match against Greece.
Once his playing days were over he made the United States his home and went into semi-retirement.
His first coaching experience came when his daughter's elementary school were looking for a coach and she demanded that her father helped out and gave his number to the principal.
And so began his journey into coaching as he declared: "I was reborn and discovered it was something I could do."
It sparked his dream of one day coaching Nigeria but before he fulfilled that aim he took charge of both Togo and Mali and enjoyed success and disappointment in both posts.
Not many would have predicted that in his first job as a coach he could lead the previously unheralded Togo to the 2006 World Cup finals, ahead of Senegal and Zambia.
However, he would have to wait another eight years to lead a team at the World Cup finals because he was sacked by Togo just a few months before the tournament in Germany.
He lost his job after Togo crashed out of the Nations Cup in Egypt without winning a single game and was replaced by Otto Pfister for the World Cup.
Togo then re-hired him in 2007 but the Big Boss was unable to find the same success with the Hawks and moved on a year later.
Then while he was waiting for Nigeria to decide whether to offer him a job he was approached by Mali, a chance that he accepted.
More success came his way as he led Mali to the Nations Cup finals in Angola but again he was unable to lead them past the group stages.
Keshi finally got the call he had been hoping for in 2011 when the NFF asked him to coach the Super Eagles.
The next four years saw him earn his place in African football's history books but his stint was also beset by seemingly constant arguments with his employers.
He became only the second person to win the Nations Cup as a player and a coach and was also the first African to lead two different nations to the World Cup finals.
At the finals in Brazil in 2014 he led Nigeria to the second round and so is the only African coach to appear in the knockout phase of a World Cup.
But throughout this time there were constant rows with the NFF over unpaid salaries and several attempts to ease him out of the job, including reports the federation wanted to sack him during the 2013 Nations Cup finals.
Keshi eventually stayed on and led the Super Eagles to their fifth World Cup finals in Brazil, where they were eliminated in the second round, beaten 2-0 by France.
Again it appeared he had lost his job when he said his contract had not been renewed but once more he was persuaded to continue in his role.
Just a few months later it took the intervention of then-President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure Keshi remained in charge of the Super Eagles.
His time in charge eventually came to an end in July 2015 when he was sacked amid rumors he had applied to be Ivory Coast coach.
Keshi did not get that post and did not work as a coach again before his untimely death although he had once again begun looking for work.
After spending time to mourn the death of his wife of more than 30 years, he had started talks with South African club Orlando Pirates as well as the Guinea national team.
Keshi and his late wife Kate, who died last December after a battle with cancer, had four children.
Keshi is the fifth member of the so-called 'Golden Generation' of Nigerian footballers who won in 1994 to die after Uche Okafor, Thompson Oliha, Rashidi Yekini and Wilfred Agbonavbare.
Amodu first shot to prominence when he guided Nigerian side BCC Lions of Gboko to win the now-defunct African Cup Winners Cup in 1990.
His team reached the final of the same competition the following year but lost to Zambian side Power Dynamos 5-4 on aggregate in 1991.
Three years later Amodu replaced Dutchman Clemens Westerhof as Nigeria coach in 1994 and then led reigning African Champions to fourth place at the 1995 King Fahd Cup (now renamed Fifa Confederations Cup) before his exit later that year.
He returned to manage the team again from 1998-99, 2001-02 and 2008-2010.
He helped the country to qualify for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea and led them to a third-place finish in the 2002 Nations Cup.
Under his stewardship, Nigeria qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa but Amodu was sacked despite the team's third-place finish at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.
It was the second time he had been removed from his post ahead of a World Cup finals tournament - Amodu was also fired ahead of the 2002 edition after Nigeria finished third at the 2002 Nations Cup in Mali.
Despite his remarkable achievements as Super Eagles coach, Amodu had a turbulent relationship with the fans and his employers, with critics constantly questioning the team's style of play, his tactics and key decisions.
The NFF named him as the national technical director in May 2013 but his appointment was only confirmed in October 2014.
Fiery, highly respected by his colleagues, passionate, conservative and a man who possessed strong knowledge of the game, Amodu was always outspoken.
In his last interview with BBC Sport in March, Amodu cited all the problems blighting Nigerian football and was keen to sit down with his employers to proffer solutions.
"I must confess that all is not well with Nigerian football in terms of structure and funding. We really need to rejig the whole aspect of our football if we have to be serious and sustain development at a high level.
"I've been taking notes and these are some of the things I will bring up when I meet with the NFF," he told BBC Sport.
Amodu, who began his coaching career with BCC Lions and also handled rivals El-Kanemi Warriors, is the most decorated coach in Nigerian FA Cup history, having won it in 1989, 1992, 1993 and 1994.
He won the Nigeria League and Cup double in 1994, and won the Super Cup in 1989, 1993 and 1994. He also managed South African giants Orlando Pirates between 1996 and 1997.
Danesius Marteh, email@example.com