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Nigerian legend Finidi George is tasked with rekindling the Super Eagles’ World Cup momentum

May 3, 2024 | Sports | 0 comments

In a moment that stirred both nostalgia and hope within Nigerian football circles, iconic winger Finidi George has been appointed to lead the Super Eagles in their quest to revive their faltering 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign.

The 53-year-old, a revered figure in Nigerian soccer history as part of the legendary ‘Golden Generation,’ steps into the role of head coach following Jose Peseiro’s departure after Nigeria’s defeat to Cote d’Ivoire in the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations final in February.

George’s elevation to the top job marks a homecoming of sorts, having previously served as Peseiro’s assistant for 20 months.

“The Board of Nigeria Football Federation on Monday approved the recommendation of its Technical and Development Committee to appoint former ace winger Finidi George as Head Coach of the Senior Men National Football Team, Super Eagles,” stated the NFF in a release.

Now entrusted with the task of reigniting the Super Eagles’ World Cup aspirations, George faces the challenge of steering Nigeria’s journey to the 2026 tournament in North America, with qualification prospects currently hanging in the balance.

The three-time African champions have faced stumbling blocks in Group C, with two draws in their opening qualifiers leaving them in a precarious position. June’s crucial matches against South Africa and Benin, labelled as “must-win” by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), represent George’s initial litmus test – pivotal encounters that could shape the trajectory of his tenure.

“George’s immediate task will be to guide the Super Eagles to victory in two 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin Republic in Uyo and Abidjan respectively, in a little over five weeks,” stated the NFF.

“The matches are must-win encounters, with the Super Eagles lagging behind in third place in Group C of the African campaign behind Rwanda and South Africa.”

George emerged as the preferred candidate over a field of notable contenders, including former international teammate Emmanuel Amuneke and ex-analyst for Pep Guardiola, Domenec Torrent. His selection reflects the Nigerian Football Federation’s confidence in George’s firsthand understanding of the pressures inherent in leading the Super Eagles.

Having experienced the weight of national expectations as a player, clinching the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations title, George now shoulders the responsibility once more. His illustrious playing career, coupled with coaching success at club level with Enyimba, underscores his suitability for the role. Yet, the international arena presents a distinct challenge, demanding tactical acumen, adept man-management, and the ability to instil a winning ethos within the Nigeria squad.

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