July 20, 2024

NFF’s move to hire foreign coach and Finidi George’s Super Eagles future


The statement released this week by the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, was an indictment on Finidi George.

One of the key points raised in the communiqué after Thursday’s meeting, was that the federation will bring in a foreign technical adviser for the Super Eagles.

The NFF also apologised to fans for the poor displays after four fixtures out of 10 in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers.

They vowed to put necessary measures in place ahead of the AFCON 2025 qualifiers in September 2024 and the resumption of the World Cup qualifiers in March 2025.

This includes “a more robust scouting programme of outstanding Nigerian-eligible players from across the four corners of the universe, who can add tremendous value to the nation’s flagship team.”

Finidi’s appointment as substantive coach of the national team has unravelled quickly. He’s not even been in the role for two months yet.

“I don’t think he has started well,” Wale Agbede, the Head of Sports at Plus TV, tells DAILY POST.

“It has been a mix, especially with the first two games, when he was still serving on an interim.

“But the two matches after he was made permanent, the results haven’t been good.

“In the second game that Nigeria lost (to Benin Republic), the team created chances. Also, the draw with South Africa, the team also created chances and there was a clear penalty shout. I thought it was a penalty. And if it was given and converted, one point could have easily been three.

“I understand the uproar. I have shied away from being overly critical, especially on social media, because football is a game of fine margins.

“And unfortunately for Finidi, he is in a job if the margins don’t tilt towards success, the criticism can be quite extreme.”

Finidi was picked for the job ahead of names like Emmanuel Amuneke, Samson Siasia and Daniel Amokachi – who eventually turned down the offer to be his assistant.

It left a lot of Nigerians questioning if the NFF made the best choice.

“Among the pool of coaches that applied for the job, I think Finidi George was the best option for me,” Agbede says.

“You look at what he has done in the local league with Enyimba – and I know people are bantering him with that right now.

“But he did great work with Enyimba until he left. Enyimba are five points adrift of the title with three games to go. He got them into that position this season, after winning the league last year. I think it is a very good measure of how much work he has done to deserve this role.

“When you look at the history of Nigerian coaches in the past, they never really got the job based on the track record of what they have done or on merit.

“This is a guy that was coaching underage football abroad. His family, I don’t know if they live in Nigeria now, but his family was living abroad. He still has a great relationship with Real Betis. I still see him do a lot of professional stuff with them. He’s very welcome in the city of Seville and I think he owns a house there.

“The point I’m trying to make here is that he had the choice to choose a more comfortable path, but he came back home to till the soil figuratively. And he did harvest.

“I know some people were pushing for Samson Siasia. But Siasia’s FIFA ban is not over until August. And I think his name is tainted. Siasia has also managed the Super Eagles twice and failed. We always forget that.”

Is Finidi not also failing and should be sacked?

“This is a dicey question. There’s no guarantee in football,” Agbede quipped.

“You could bring in someone else.. Or maybe I just don’t care anymore. I was in a lot of back and forth with Nigerian football watchers online, who started to trivialize what Gernot Rohr did and turned him to the coach who always only qualifies for tournaments.

“And I kept telling them that before Rohr came to the Super Eagles, Nigeria had missed out on three of the last four Nations Cup and had missed out on the World Cup prior. This guy comes in and qualifies with a game in hand. And then reached the semi-final of the AFCON.

“I think I’m so exhausted from trying to insert sense in people’s brain from that episode that I find it hard to form an opinion right now. Which is why Wilfred Ndidi made those comments that became controversial. That is because we are Nigeria, we cannot just go into any game and win it.

“With Finidi, it is a really dicey question. Because he could as well go on and win the next game. They (NFF) have made a decision and I’ll assume it is well thought out. They must have also considered the potential of not qualifying for the World Cup.

“But hiring the manager and sacking him after two days will be really crazy. It could even put the team in a lot of disarray than it already is.”

Despite putting up a defence for Finidi, Agbede adds that the coach needs to step up quickly, both in tactics and communication.

He said: “In terms of tactics, I think he has shot himself in the foot with a couple of his comments in the media. I think he needs to understand that managing a national team involves having to communicate some of your thoughts properly to the media.

“Say stuff like I don’t believe in tactics… I understand his point. It is not entirely senseless.

“You watch some of the great managers and Pep is a great example, where you are watching his team and John Stones is in front of the opposition’s 18-yard box.

“But in the formation, he is supposed to be playing centre-back and be in front of his goalkeeper. So I think he was talking more about how he will focus on the system his team is playing and the roles the players will play in those systems. Instead of saying we are playing 4-4-2 or 4-3-3.

“So in terms of tactics, I think I see the reason in what he is saying, but this is not club football anymore.”



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