Congo v Nigeria: Keshi returns with holders on brink of exit

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Stephen Keshi's turbulent time as Nigeria coach continues as his side visit Congo for an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Saturday.

The drawn-out saga over Keshi's future goes back to the World Cup in Brazil, where confusion reigned over whether he had left his post following their last-16 exit to France.

Keshi had been in charge of the African nation since 2011, but, following the World Cup, led the team on a non-contract basis.

That arrangement came to an end when he was dismissed in October - Shaibu Amodu appointed as interim replacement - before Keshi's return was confirmed at the start of November with Nigeria having not played a fixture since his departure.

And the 52-year-old has a big task on his hands, with Nigeria three points off second-placed Congo and four off leaders South Africa going into the final two games. 

Without a win at the Stade Municipal in Pointe-Noire, Nigeria's best chance of being able to defend their title will likely rest on being the best third-placed team, although Keshi remains solely focused on the weekend's clash rather than his future.

"I don't think it is proper to say my fate is tied to this job. My concern right now is the game against Congo, and not whether I will still be in charge of this team after the match against Congo or South Africa," he said this week.

"My destiny is not tied to Nigeria. It is wrong to say my destiny is tied here because this country is bigger than any individual. If I am not the Super Eagles head coach today, my life will still go on.

"I have a job to do and that is to ensure that the team qualifies the country for the Nations Cup.

"God forbid if we don't qualify, what will happen? It will not only affect Stephen Keshi, it will also affect you and every other Nigerian who loves this sport."

Victory for Congo would seal them a place in next year's competition, with the AFCON 2015 venue yet to be confirmed after Morocco were stripped of hosting duties due to disagreements with CAF over a potential postponement.

Claude Le Roy's men have already beaten Nigeria once in the group so far - running out 3-2 winners in Calabar in September courtesy of Thievy Bifouma's brace.

And the Frenchman is bullish going into Saturday's clash as he seeks to do the double over the 2013 champions.

"I'm sure that we shall qualify for next year's Nations Cup because we are not going to lose at home to Nigeria," he told RFI.

"The magic for us was beating Nigeria in Calabar, that result was so crucial for us and we are not going to let our effort go in vain when Nigeria comes to Congo."