Johannesburg - Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, has said that Super Eagles coach was not given any target ahead of the 2013 African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Abdullahi told newsmen on Friday in Johannesburg that the National Sports Commission (NSC) and Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) were conscious of the pressure such a target woud put on the team.
"We realised that given the rebuilding work that Stephen Keshi is doing, it will be wrong to set a target for the team before the Nations Cup started,'' the minister said.
"In any case no one would have predicted that Nigeria would reach the final of the tournament, although I did say when I was leaving South Africa before the quarter final match against Cote d'Ivoire that I would return for the final,” Abdullahi added.
He attributed the success of the team at the tournament to the unity existing between the NSC and the NFF.
Abdullahi praised the professionalism demonstratrated by of Keshi and the players during the campaign.
"I can only attribute the success of the team to the new governance system that we have managed to
put in place.
"In the past, there were people who were deliberately working against the success of the team so that no one would take glory for the success of
"They were powerful people who could influence CAF on major matters but what we have now is that everyone is working for the team’s success.
"A lot of attempts have been made to destabilise the team but the players and coaches have demonstrated their trust in the ministry and the NFF,’’ Abdullahi said.
He said that there was no intention to sack Keshi because of the initial slow start of the team at the tournament.
"There was the rumour that Keshi would be sacked but I called him and told him that nobody was going to sack him because he is doing a great job,” Abdullahi said.
He said that the victory over Cote d’ Ivoire at the quarter-final motivated the team.
"The victory over Cote d’ Ivoire brought confidence and calm to the team. Also President Goodluck Jonathan's skpe call to the team equally motivated the team against Mali at the semi-final.
"The President also promised to call to speak with the players and technical crew before Sunday's final,’’ Abdullahi said.
Meanwhile, the Sports minister has confirmed that the Senate president Sen. David Mark will lead the federal government delegation to the final of the 2013 nation’s cup between the Super Eagles and Burkina-Faso at the National Stadium in Johannesburg
on Feb. 10.
"As at today (Friday) the instruction is that the Senate President and some governors will arrive in South Africa on Saturday for the final.
"It is possible the President could find time to come but we have not received any information or confirmation on that,” Abdullahi said.