SportsFinidi George And Nigeria's Search For Next Super Eagles' Coach

Finidi George And Nigeria’s Search For Next Super Eagles’ Coach


March 24, (THEWILL)- The Nigeria Football Federation’s (NFF) pursuit of a new head coach for the senior men’s national team, the Super Eagles, has reached a critical juncture. With the expiration of Jose Peseiro’s contract, following the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, where Nigeria narrowly missed out on the continental crown after a heartbreaking loss to hosts Ivory Coast in the final, the NFF wasted no time in advertising the coveted vacancy. The governing body issued an open call for applications, attracting a diverse array of candidates – no fewer than 10 – all vying for the opportunity to lead one of Africa’s most revered national football teams.

As the NFF embarks on the meticulous process of evaluating the applicants, one name has already been thrust into the limelight: Finidi George. The 52-year-old former international, who amassed over 60 caps for the Super Eagles during his illustrious playing career, has been entrusted with the interim role ahead of the crucial international break in March.

George’s appointment as interim head coach serves as a de facto audition for the substantive position and his debut in the dugout couldn’t have been more auspicious.

In a high-profile friendly encounter against eternal rivals Ghana, dubbed the “Jollof Derby,” Nigeria emerged victorious with a hard-fought 2-1 triumph in Marrakesh, Morocco. George’s tactical prowess was on full display as he navigated the ebbs and flows of the contest, making decisive substitutions that ultimately swung the pendulum in Nigeria’s favour.

The game’s opening goal arrived, courtesy of a coolly-dispatched penalty by Cyriel Dessers in the 39th minute, followed by a thunderbolt from Ademola Lookman in the 84th minute that left the Ghanaian goalkeeper grasping at thin air. Although Jordan Ayew’s late penalty reduced the deficit, Nigeria held firm to secure a morale-boosting victory, providing George with an impressive start to his interim tenure.

Finidi George’s pedigree as a former Super Eagles legend, coupled with his coaching acumen, which saw him guide Enyimba FC to the Nigeria Professional Football League title last year, has firmly entrenched him as a leading contender for the permanent role. His experience as a member of Nigeria’s 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and 1996 Olympic Games-winning squads adds an invaluable layer of understanding of the pressures and expectations that come with donning the iconic green-and-white jersey.

However, George is not the only candidate whose name has been thrust into the limelight. Among the other aspirants vying for the coveted position are several high-profile figures, both domestic and international, each bringing a unique blend of experience and pedigree to the table.

Sunday Oliseh, who previously held the reins of the Super Eagles from July 2015 to February 2016, is seeking a return to the dugout, aiming to rectify the tumultuous relationship with the NFF and key players that ultimately led to his departure during his previous tenure. Renowned for his insightful punditry and analytical contributions to various media outlets, Oliseh’s desire to prove his worth as a coach remains undiminished.

Another name that has garnered significant attention is Emmanuel Amuneke, the mastermind behind Nigeria’s 2015 FIFA Under-17 World Cup-winning team, the Golden Eaglets. Amunike’s candidacy has been bolstered by an endorsement from the legendary Jo Bonfrere, the architect of Nigeria’s historic 1996 Olympic Games gold medal triumph.

Amuneke’s own playing credentials are impeccable, having been a part of the 1994 AFCON and 1996 Olympics-winning sides, lending credence to his suitability for the role. The ex-Zamalek standout player also exhibited his chops when he guided Tanzania to qualify for the 2019 AFCON, marking the nation’s inaugural participation in the event since 1980.

Ndubuisi Egbo, the trailblazing Nigerian coach who etched his name into history by becoming the first compatriot to win a league title in Europe during the 2019/2020 season with KF Tirana in Albania, is another intriguing candidate. His international exploits have garnered admiration and raised hopes that he could replicate such success on the grandest stage with the Super Eagles.

Joining the fray is Michael Nsien, the current head coach of the United States Under-19 team. The 43-year-old Nigerian-American, a former defender himself, firmly believes that his blend of tactical acumen and understanding of the modern game makes him the ideal candidate to succeed Peseiro and guide the Super Eagles into a new era of success.

The list of candidates is further bolstered by the presence of Samson Siasia, a name that carries both reverence and controversy in equal measure. Currently serving a FIFA ban from all football-related activities, Siasia’s hope hinges on the NFF delaying the appointment until his ban is lifted in August, allowing him to stake his claim for the coveted role.

Sylvanus Okpala, an ex-Super Eagles assistant coach under the late Stephen Keshi, is another contender whose name resonates with Nigerian football fans. Okpala’s pedigree is undeniable, having won the AFCON title both as a player in 1980 and as an assistant coach in 2013, making him a seasoned campaigner in the African football landscape.

Salisu Yusuf, a former chief coach of the Nigerian national team, is a controversial inclusion in this list, having faced allegations of bribery involving players from the CHAN Super Eagles squad in 2018. Despite the tarnish to his record, Yusuf’s current role with Rivers United has reignited his ambitions of leading the senior national team.

Rounding out the list of candidates is Daniel Amokachi, who served as an assistant to Stephen Keshi when the Super Eagles last tasted AFCON glory in 2013. Amokachi’s wealth of experience, both as a player and a coach, has fuelled his desire to take on the mantle of leading the team he once represented with distinction.

As the NFF meticulously evaluates each candidate’s credentials, weighing their respective strengths, weaknesses, and suitability for the role, a single question looms large: who will emerge victorious in this high-stakes managerial race? The chosen candidate will inherit a talented squad brimming with potential, but also the weight of expectation that accompanies leading one of Africa’s most successful and revered national teams.

The road ahead is arduous, with the 2026 World Cup qualifiers on the horizon, commencing in June. The new manager’s ability to navigate the treacherous terrain of international football, fostering a cohesive unit capable of overcoming any obstacle, will be paramount to Nigeria’s aspirations of securing a coveted spot at the grandest stage of them all.

As the NFF prepares to announce its decision by April, the anticipation among Nigerian football faithful is palpable. The choice of the new manager will undoubtedly shape the future trajectory of the Super Eagles, and the governing body must exercise due diligence in selecting the candidate best equipped to lead the team to greater heights, both on the continental and global stages.

In a nation where football is woven into the very fabric of its identity, the appointment of the new Super Eagles manager carries immense significance. It is a decision that will resonate far beyond the confines of the pitch, capturing the hearts and minds of millions who view the national team as a source of pride, unity, and unwavering passion.

Whether the NFF opts for the familiarity and pedigree of Finidi George, the tactical acumen of an international name like Conceicao, or the fresh perspective of an up-and-coming tactician like Nsien, one thing is certain: the weight of expectation will be immense. The new manager will be entrusted with the sacred duty of guiding the Super Eagles to new heights, rekindling the nation’s dreams of global footballing glory.

As the curtain rises on a new era for Nigerian football, the stage is set for the chosen candidate to etch their name into the annals of history, joining the ranks of those who have led the Super Eagles to triumph on the grandest stages. The future beckons, and with it, the promise of a new dawn for one of Africa’s most iconic and beloved national teams.

About the Author

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Jude Obafemi is a versatile senior Correspondent at THEWILL Newspapers, excelling in sourcing, researching, and delivering sports news stories for both print and digital publications.

Jude Obafemi, THEWILL
Jude Obafemi is a versatile senior Correspondent at THEWILL Newspapers, excelling in sourcing, researching, and delivering sports news stories for both print and digital publications.

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