The chief coach of the Super Eagles, Salisu Yusuf, who was caught on camera collecting bribe in a sting operation, has completed his one-year ban, the Nigeria Football Federation has announced.
The 56-year-old manager who led the Nigeria home-based team to the WAFU Cup of Nations in Ghana was filmed by Anas’ Tiger Eye PI agency in September 2017 collecting cash from undercover journalists, who posed as agents seeking to influence players’ selection at the tournament.
The former Kano Pillars handler was also promised 15 per cent from the players’ contracts should they get snapped up, with the gaffer in turn promising the agents spots for both players at the 2018 African Nations Championship in Morocco.
Yusuf was meant to be in full charge of the Nigeria U-23 team but with his ban recommended by the NFF Committee on Ethics and Fair Play, Coach Imama Amapakabo stepped in to handle the team.
A press statement on Thursday signed by the NFF Head of Communications Ademola Olajire, thanked Amapakabo for stepping in and helping in securing qualification for the U23 AFCON tournament in Egypt.
“The Nigeria Football Federation has noted that the Chief Coach of the Super Eagles, Salisu Yusuf has now fully served the one –year suspension slammed on him last year.
“The Federation thanked Coach Imama Amapakabo for his sterling efforts while in charge of the U23 National Team in the absence of the suspended Yusuf, and for eventually seeing to the team’s qualification for the U23 AFCON,” the NFF said in its statement.
While many may criticise the recall, some see as a subtle recall of coach Yusuf falls short of popular opinion, the NFF President Amaju Pinnick may have long given the hint that this action could be taken in an interview with the BBC months back.
Asked by BBC Africa’s Mimi Fawaz in October 2918 if indeed the NFF will accept Salisu Yusuf back, Pinnick replied: “Yes, definitely, he has a contract with us for five years I think, I will check with my legal people.
“Punishment is not meant to chase you away, it is just to reprimand you and bring you back a better person.”
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It was not clear whether Mr Salisu will take back the team. Phone calls to the NFF spokesperson, Ademola Olajire, were not answered.
However, according to the Guardian, a top official of the NFF, who pleaded anonymity said that Salisu would not come near any of the national teams until further notice, adding that the federation viewed his offence as a serious issue, which would not be waved away so soon.
He affirmed that Coach Imama Amapakabo would still head the U-23 national team, as well as the CHAN team preparing for the WAFU Cup and the CHAN 2020 qualifiers.