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Page last updated at 10:16 GMT, Wednesday, 2 April 2008 11:16 UK

Keshi opts for Mali national team

Stephen Keshi
Keshi is out of the running for the Nigeria job

Nigerian Stephen Keshi has signed a two-year deal to coach Mali.

Talks with Mali began in February but had stalled over the former Togo coach's salary demands.

Keshi was on the shortlist for the Nigeria national team post, but is now effectively out of contention, with the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) yet to make a decision.

"I've signed with Mali, and I'm starting work this evening," Keshi told BBC Sport from Bamako.

"It's a shame, I would have loved to have coached the Nigeria team, but the NFA was undecided, so I went for Mali.

"Should it come any time when I'm free, of course I'd love to coach Nigeria."

Keshi, who signed the deal on Tuesday, takes over Frenchman Jean-Francois Jodar who was sacked last month.

Jodar was shown the door after Mali's unimpressive outing at the African Cup of Nations in January.

Keshi's first official game in charge of the Eagles will be in June when they play Congo in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers.

They will also face Sudan and Chad in Group Ten of the qualifiers.

"My goal with Mali is to take it game by game and see the outcome," Keshi said.

The Nigerian was in charge of Togo when they qualified for the 2006 World Cup.

see also
Mali delay Keshi's appointment
20 Mar 08 |  African
Decision time for Nigeria
27 Feb 08 |  African
Keshi back in charge of Togo
06 Feb 07 |  African
Togo coach hangs in the balance
14 Feb 06 |  African
2010 World Cup Qualifiers
27 Mar 08 |  African

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