Finidi faces real test against Bafana

By Daily Sports Nigeria on June 7, 2024

Just over a month, exactly 39 days after being named the substantive head coach of the Super Eagles, ex-international, Finidi George, will be in the dug out for what can be termed his first major test in charge, as Nigeria hosts South Africa in a crucial 2026 World Cup qualifying match in Uyo on Friday (today), PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

It’s the third game in the series for Nigeria and it will be followed by another tricky test against Benin Republic in Ivory Coast, the Squirrels adopted home ground on Monday.

With only two points from their first two matches, the Super Eagles are third in the Group behind South Africa and Rwanda, meaning Finidi’s task couldn’t have come harder, as he tries to tutor the  Eagles back on track.

Moreover, the Super Eagles failed to reach the last edition of the World Cup in Qatar.

The 53-year-old seems to know that nothing less than victory is acceptable in the two games, regardless of the fact that South Africa have only beaten the Eagles once in a competitive game.

“We have trained well, the players understand the task. I trust my players and their quality. It’s a must win game,” Finidi during the pre-match interview.

“The AFCON win against South Africa is gone, this is a new game. We have our plans.”

The former Ajax player also seems to have a knack for scaling his first hurdle, bearing in him the result of the first of two friendlies he handled as well as his debut for the national team as a player in 1991.

In March, Finidi, in interim capacity led the team to a 2-1 win over Ghana before losing 2-0 to Mali.

As a player, Finidi made his debut for Nigeria in 1991 during an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Burkina Faso, providing three assists for Rashidi Yekini and scoring once in a 7–1 rout. His performance in that game perhaps made Nigerians forget the  pre-match embarrassment which saw the team play the game with some make shift shorts, which were cut from their tracksuits trousers, after the team’s kitman allegedly forgot their shorts in camp.

“I don’t have anything to prove. I am relaxed, it is football. I want to win, I understand the tasks. I am not scared, I played at the highest and we are going for a win.”

Finidi went on to make 62 appearances for Nigeria scoring two goals while winning the 1994 AFCON as well.

Before the game against South Africa and Benin, the current crop of players in the national team have, no doubt, also tested the resolve of the ex-international with eight of them arriving camp well beyond schedule for the clashes.

The ex-international had just one session with the complete 23-man squad on Thursday, their last session before the game but he insists the team’s plans aren’t disrupted.

“The strike affected just three players, I had enough sessions with the squad,” the coach said.



Source Punch Ng

Posted June 7, 2024


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