New Eagles coach targets World Cup qualification, vows competitive squad selection

NEWLY-APPOINTED Super Eagles’ coach, George Finidi has vowed to secure six points in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Benin.

Finidi said this at his unveiling ceremony as the Super Eagles’ head coach at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, on Monday, May 13, adding that he knew what the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) expected of him.

Finidi, who has led the team to two friendlies after the expiration of the immediate past coach, José Santos Peseiro, said he would only call up players regularly playing for clubs in Nigeria or abroad for international assignments to ensure the Super Eagles’ continued competitiveness.

“My first target is to make sure that we are in line to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup by winning the upcoming two matches against South Africa and Benin Republic. The 2025 AFCON qualifiers will soon start and we must also be prepared for those as well. 

“I know what the NFF wants as it is boldly written in the contract, and I will work very hard to add value to the team and put myself in the position to earn even more than I will be earning from the take-off.”

He also noted that there would be no controversy regarding his relationship with the players, adding that they were professionals who would be given what they are used to in Europe.

“I will try my best to ensure the team starts functioning properly and we start winning games again. There is no pressure on me; I have a tough skin. I just want to call for your support. I know this is not an easy job, but with the support of everyone, we can achieve our objectives,” he said.

On his part, Nigeria’s Minister of Sports Development, John Owan Enoh, applauded the leadership of NFF for settling for an indigenous head coach for the Super Eagles, despite numerous foreign applicants for the position.

He also urged the NFF and all Nigerians to provide full support for the new coach.

The President of NFF, Ibrahim Musa Gusau expressed delight over the “new chapter” in the nation’s senior men’s football team, assuring that the football governing body was determined to fully support George and his assistants to lead the Super Eagles to new heights.

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“When we returned from the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, we began the search for a new head coach. There was a plethora of foreign applicants, far more than the indigenous applicants. However, we undertook a thorough process that has produced an indigenous coach and we are very happy about that. 

“Finidi George was part of the technical crew that came close to winning the AFCON, and we have faith in him that he will lead the team to the title next time. 

Gusau also disclosed that the Federation granted George autonomy in selecting his assistants.

According to him, Finidi chose Daniel Amokachi and Benjamin James as assistants, along with Olatunji Baruwa as the goalkeepers’ trainer, Chima Onyeike as the Fitness Trainer, and Mehmet Ozturk as the Analyst.




     

     

    Recall that The ICIR reported that NFF announced the appointment of Finidi as the new head coach of the Super Eagles.

    According to a statement released on Monday, April 29, the 52-year-old former Real Betis and Ajax Amsterdam forward was given the reins of the nation’s senior men’s team after the NFF Board approved the recommendation of its Technical and Development Committee the appointment.

    Following the Super Eagles’ remarkable run to the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, the Super Eagles gaffer at the tournament, Peseiro, a Portuguese, stepped down, and Finidi George, who had worked as his assistant for 20 months, took over as temporary coach.

    Considering George’s remarkable career, the NFF statement highlighted his achievements, which include “gold, silver and bronze medals from the 1992, 1994, 2000 and 2002 AFCON tournaments.”

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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