Finidi George resigns as Nigeria's Super Eagles coach
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Finidi George resigns as Nigeria's Super Eagles coach

Super Eagles head coach, Finidi George, has resigned after a poor run of games in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers.

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The former Nigerian international confirmed his resignation to Nigeria's Channels Television.

“Yes, it is true. I have resigned,” he wrote in response to enquiries.

However, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is yet to react to this development.

George led the Eagles to a 1-1 draw against South Africa at home in Uyo and a 2-1 loss to Benin Republic in Abidjan, putting Nigeria’s qualification to the World Cup in serious doubt.

The two results extended Nigeria’s winless run in the qualifiers having previously played two draws under former coach Jose Peseiro.

Following the poor performance of the Nigerian team in the two games under George, there were several calls from the fans for his sack.

Hiring ‘expatriate’ technical adviser

Faced with the potential of missing out on another World Cup after the failure of Qatar 2022, the NFF and the Sports Minister had an emergency meeting with George after the South Africa and Benin Republic games.

After the meeting, the nation’s football-governing body spared George but revealed that it will hire an expatriate technical adviser for the Super Eagles.

It was, however, unclear what role George will play in the Super Eagles going forward.

“The Executive Committee of Nigeria Football Federation held a meeting on Wednesday, 12th June 2024 in hybrid mode to deliberate on important issues in Nigeria Football and resolved as follows:

“The Executive Committee wholeheartedly apologized to Nigerians for the dismal output and subsequent very poor returns of the Senior Men National Team, Super Eagles, in four out of 10 matches in the ongoing qualification series for the 2026 FIFA World Cup finals, and pledged to work assiduously and put necessary measures in place to ensure a better-prepared squad ahead of the AFCON 2025 qualifiers in September this year and the resumption of the World Cup qualifiers in March 2025,” the NFF said.

“Further to (1) above, the Executive Committee resolved to employ an expatriate Technical Adviser for the Super Eagles in the coming weeks, ahead of the AFCON qualifiers and the remaining FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.”
Succeeding Peseiro

Portuguese tactician Jose Peseiro took a walk from the Super Eagles team following the expiration of his contract with the NFF at the end of the 2023 Nation’s Cup in Ivory Coast where the team lost to the host in the final.

Peseiro’s departure left a vacancy which the Federation, after several weeks filled with George, who served as assistant to the Portuguese for 20 months.

The announcement of his appointment in April signaled Nigeria’s return to an indigenous coach which many had clamoured for.

Before his appointment as the substantive head coach, George who was also serving as the head coach of Nigerian league side, Enyimba had taken charge of the squad in an interim capacity during two friendly matches in Morocco in March.

He led the team to edge Ghana 2-1 in the first match, ending an 18-year winless streak against the Black Stars, but then lost 0-2 to Mali in the second game.

The friendly victory against Ghana ended up being the only victory recorded by George in his four games while in charge of the Super Eagles. He recorded two losses against Mali and Benin Republic and one draw against South Africa.

Answers demanded after 'unacceptable' Nigeria results

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Nigeria's sports ministry has demanded an explanation for the country's poor 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifying campaign, labelling it "unacceptable" after a 2-1 defeat by Benin left the Super Eagles winless from their opening four games.

Following draws with Lesotho, Zimbabwe and South Africa, Monday's result means Nigeria sit fifth in Group C with three points from a possible 12.

Only the group winners are guaranteed a place at the World Cup finals, which will be jointly hosted by the USA, Canada, and Mexico.

"Our supporters are passionate and devoted," senator John Owan Enoh, minister of sports development, said in a statement.

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"They deserve an explanation for why our national team has not been performing to the expected standards since after the last Africa Cup of Nations.

"The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) must provide a comprehensive technical report explaining the reasons behind this poor showing and give cause why there mustn't be consequences.

"The recent results are unacceptable."

Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, losing on away goals to Ghana in the play-offs, but did reach the final of this year's Nations Cup under former boss Jose Peseiro, losing to hosts Ivory Coast.

Finidi George was appointed as Peseiro's replacement in April but failed to lift the team's performances against South Africa and Benin.

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The Super Eagles have failed to win any of their past seven World Cup qualifiers dating back to November 2021 - a time when Gernot Rohr, now coach of Benin, was in charge.

Hitting the wrong notes

The game against Benin, which was played in neutral Ivory Coast, got off to an inauspicious start for Nigeria when the the wrong national anthem was played.

Two weeks ago, President Bola Tinubu made a controversial decision to revert to the nation's former anthem, but organisers in Abidjan clearly missed the memo.

The NFF expressed its displeasure at the mistake and threatened not to take the field for the second period until the correct anthem was played.

Raphael Onyedika had put the Super Eagles ahead after 27 minutes but goals from Jodel Dossou and Steve Mounie gave Benin the advantage at the break.

Having returned to Nigeria on Tuesday, the team put out a statement on social media,, external admitting they were "unhappy about the way the two games panned out" and promising to "fight hard till the end" of the qualifying campaign.

One factor in the squad's underperformance could be the absence of star striker Victor Osimhen, who has missed all four Group C games so far with injury.

Yet, even without the reigning African Footballer of the Year, the Nigeria squad boasts enough attacking talent to have found the net more than four times in as many outings.

African World Cup qualifiers are set to resume in March next year, with 2025 Nations Cup qualifiers scheduled to be held in September, October and November.

Concerns around the performance of the Super Eagles may not be limited to results alone but how the team has fared under new boss Finidi George.

Nigeria's build up to the recent qualifiers was marred by the late arrival of some players who were caught up in an industrial strike called by labour unions in the country.

Ademola Lookman, Atalanta's hat-trick hero in the Europa League final, Fulham pair Alex Iwobi and Calvin Bassey, and West Brom defender Semi Ajayi were among those affected.

All four players arrived in camp behind schedule but still made the starting XI for the game against South Africa in Uyo last Friday.

This has raised curiosity amongst fans who queried why the coach overlooked players already in camp and instead gave the nod to latecomers.

Fans fear absence from 2026 finals

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