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The Big Boss

“I would like to dedicate the [Afcon] trophy to all African coaches. We’re not yet there, this team has taken just months to build. We will continue building.” It was a surreal moment on the night of 10 February 2013 when Stephen Keshi, the coach of Nigeria’s national football team, uttered those words inside the packed press conference at Soccer City Stadium in Soweto, on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Scores of journalists were waiting for a great, perhaps triumphal quote from this man who had charmed the continent over the three weeks of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament, with his team of rag-tag soldiers, three-quarters of whom were serving the national squad for the first time. Instead, Keshi said something anti-climactic: “We’re not yet there.”