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Coach Shaibu rewarded with permanent Nigerian deal

© Reuters Limited 2001

By Eniwoke Ibagere

PORT-HARCOURT, Nigeria, July 30 (Reuters) - Nigeria coach Amodu Shaibu will remain in charge for next year's World Cup after taking them to the finals, the country's football association said on Monday.

Shaibu's appointment had only been seen as a temporary measure following the sacking of Durchman Jo Bonfrere in April for a string of poor results.

But Shaibu has since led the team to five wins in five games and saw them clinch the sole CAF Group B World Cup finals place with a 3-0 win over Ghana on Sunday.

"Amodu Shaibu and his assistants will be in charge of the Nigerian team to the 2002 African Nations Cup and World Cup finals," Nigerian Football Association (NFA) secretary-general Tijjani Yusuf told Reuters in the southern Port-Harcourt city.

"I'm not carried away by the euphoria of victory. By qualifying Nigeria for the World Cup, this is a statement that local coaches are good enough and we will not change the team's coaching crew again.

"We've done enough experiments with foreigners as coaches of our national team," he added.

Nigeria has had 21 foreign coaches since the 1950's. Shaibu is the first Nigerian coach to take the national team to a World Cup finals.

Dutchman Clemens Westerhof qualified the Nigerians for their debut World Cup outing in 1994 in the United States, while Frenchman Phillipe Troussier was in charge when the side reached the 1998 finals in France.

Nigeria's World Cup qualification hopes were in tatters following their shock 1-0 defeat by Sierra Leone when Shaibu and his assistants, Stephen Keshi and Joe Erico, took over in April.

But they turned Nigeria's fortunes around with victories in their remaining qualifiers against Liberia, Sudan and Ghana for a third consecutive World Cup finals.

NFA vice-chairman Nwabufor Obiefor said: "You can say this is a remarkable achievement for Shaibu and his assistants. It won't be right to employ another foreigner as coach of our team.

"We're sticking with Shaibu and his assistants all through to the World Cup this time."

Apart from a 2002 World Cup spot, Shaibu's team has also booked a place at next year's 16-team African Nations Cup tournament, to be hosted by Mali between January 19 and February 10.

Yusuf said: "The Nations Cup will be a fitting testing ground for Shaibu and his assistants to prepare for the World Cup finals. But before then, we intend to send them on a coaching course to broaden their knowledge in the game."

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