The Nigerian coach’s remark is the latest blow in a long-running conflict.
Former Nigeria striker Efan Ekoku revealed his anger at the comments made by Stephen Keshi towards Malawi coach Tom Saintfiet.
Super Eagles chief Keshi is facing possible disciplinary from FIFA with Saintfiet lodging a complaint of racism after he was called “a white dude who should go back to Belgium” by the 51-year-old last week.
The pair have been trading blows ever since the Football Association of Malawi petitioned for next month’s crucial World Cup Group F qualifier in Calabar to be moved to a different venue amid concerns after Saintfiet claimed “the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office says it is a no-travel area”.
That didn’t wash well with Keshi, with the controversy arising just two weeks before the two nations meet on September 7, but Ekoku, who featured in the same Africa Cup of Nations-winning squad as him in 1994, admits to being disheartened by his remark.
“I’m mystified. I’m extremely disappointed and a little bit angry as well that a guy who’s as smart as Stephen is, and who has been around international football for a long time, has travelled, has played in Belgium, was a very good footballer with a big profile in African football- would feel the need to say something like that,” he said on the BBC’s Sportsworld programme.
Ekoko conceded that his ex-international team-mate “does shoot from the hip occasionally” also saying that “he’s been very outspoken” and “this kind of comment has been brewing for a while”.