Friday, June 21, 2024
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he description of the exit of Coach Finidi George as premature is in your's sincerely's considered opinion, somewhat controversial. On the one hand, given the length of his contract, and the actual time he spent on the job, before being forced to quit, one is forced to label his exit as premature. But on the other hand, could one realistically label his exit as premature, given the fact he failed, even in his brief stint, to meet the huge expectations placed on his office as Super Eagles' gaffer?

Coaching a soccer team, is a result-oriented endeavour. A coach has to perform or gets the boot! There are supposed to be no sentiments attached to this evaluation; the Super Eagles' coaching responsibility inclusive.

When Coach Finidi George took up coaching responsibility of the Super Eagles of Nigeria, he had an unusually huge burden of responsibilty placed on him. He coached a team that was by far the biggest and best brand of a big nation of two hundred million people! A soccer crazy people, who despite their differences, are firmly united by soccer. A project that gives them joy, despite the challenging times .

Thus, when Coach Finidi George Finidi, took up this onerous responsibilty, he knew or should have known he was potentially walking into a huge mine field, that could blow-up in his face, in the event of failure. Thus, the present hulabaloo , we have seen, is certainly not unexpected, considering the huge expectations attached to the office of Super Eagles' coach.

On a critical note however, the speed and manner of Coach Finidi George's failure, calls to question the selection process that threw him up as Super Eagles gaffer.

In other words, the choice of Coach George as coach of the Super Eagles, with benefit of hindsight, was a rather faulty one, in your's sincerely's considered opinion. The NFF should take full responsibility for this mistake of an appointment of a Super Eagles' gaffer. The process of replacing Coach Peseiro put in place by the NFF, at the exit of the Portuguese gaffer, was paradoxically, sabotaged by the NFF, for so-called reasons of financial paucity.

In other words, the NFF started a selection process well, by advertising the job to all, but mid-stream into the process, they changed the rules of engagement and now wanted an indigenous coach for financial reasons.

Even at that, they didn't go for the best indigenous coach. Coach Emmanuel Amunike, in your's sincerely's considered opinion, was more eminently qualified for the job. But Coach Finidi George was selected, for so-called reasons of continuity with Coach Peseiro's era. A reason which with benefit of hindsight, now pales to insignificance.

With benefit of hindsight, Coach Finidi George, was too much of an administrative, technical and tactical light weight, to handle a team of the calibre of the Super Eagles of Nigeria! He got the job too early. He is no doubt a talented coach, considering his success at "Enyimba FC" of Aba. But to qualify to coach the Super Eagles of Nigeria, he needed to cut his teeth properly in club management. Since he didn't do that before taking-up the much bigger role of being the Super Eagles' gaffer, he failed, and here are the reasons why in your's sincerely's considered opinion :

He showed administrative weakness, by rather chosing to evade the issue of the substantive Super Eagles' captain, in the light of what should be the exit of Skipper Ahmed Musa from international soccer, considering the present realities of his soccer career. Yours sincerely in an earlier article already dwelt on this issue.

He, apparently, didn't command the respect of the entire players' group. Apparently, occasioned by his peculiar man-management style.

He was given the job on the premise of ensuring continuity with Coach Peseiro's era. But we saw not much of that. The players played without much cohesion. They didn't play like a team. This was the main reason, a less individually talented team like the "Cheetahs" of Benin Republic could defeat a team of highly individually talented players like the Super Eagles of Nigeria!

When the Super Eagles were 2-1 down against Benin Republic, they played lackadaisically as if they were in a tea party. They didn't exhibit a sense of urgency in their game. Coach George could have continued urging them to play with more seriousness, like increasing the tempo of the game etc. But one didn't see much of that from him.

Coach George exhibited other technical and tactical deficiencies:

He put some of the players in the wrong positions. Bright Osayi-Samuel, a right-footed player, was put at left-back against Benin Republic. This certainly had negative consequences for him in his overlapping runs. Being a natural right-footer and playing at left-back, he couldn't give the needed width in attack( crosses etc) going forward. Also, defensively, this also imperiled his ability to stop fast wingers who moved down the right flank in opposition to him.

Another mistake in this wise, was using Benjamin Taminu, a central defender as right-back. Being not a natural full-back, his overlapping runs down the flank were imperiled. And this certainly didn't give the Super Eagles the needed width down the right flank, in an offensive disposition.

These mistakes were corrected in the second half of the match against Benin Republic, but by then considerable time had been lost!

There were yawning spaces between the defensive, mid-field and offensive lines - a fundamental technical error! This contributed to the first goal of Benin Republic. If the defensive and mid-field lines were close to each other, as should have been the case, Calvin Bassey's defensive error could have been corrected, by another player coming in to cover-up for him.

The second goal scored by Benin Republic, also further exposed Coach Finidi George's technical frailties. He continued with the bad "zonal defensive" organisation of Coach Peseiro, during set-pieces. A defensive system which yours sincerely criticised in an earlier article. This system essentially concentrates defensive players in a particular zone in the defense, during set-pieces, and, thus, pays less attention to the individual players of the opposing side. This was why for the second goal of Benin Republic, the scorer of the goal could easily run past Alex Iwobi, virtually unhindered in Nigeria's very vital area to score for our opponents! Also, the goal areas on both sides of the goalkeeper, were not tended. They were left open. If they were tended, the second goal of Benin Republic could have been stopped on the goal line by a Nigerian player, even after Goalkeeper Nwabali was beaten to the ball.

Coach Finidi George, as a Super Eagles' player at the 1994 World cup competition, stopped a possible Argentinian goal on the goal line for Nigerian, after a corner kick taken by Argentina, and tapped in by Cannigia, and, thus, let Goalkeeper Peter Rufai collect the hitherto goal-bound shot cooly! Paradoxically, as coach, he forgot this fundamental defensive rule, with set-pieces.

In conclusion, all is not lost. The 2026 World cup ticket is still open for grabs. We still have our 'destiny' in our own hands. But to actualise our dreams the following factors must be in our favour:

Firstly, we must have the right coach. Yours sincerely supports the appointment of a foreign tactician at this time.

Secondly, the players must be committed to making it happen. They are the principal actors on the field of play.

Thirdly, the hand of fate or rather, the element of good luck, must be in our favour.

Me thinks Nigeria will be represented at the 2026 FIFA World cup competition!



and "Super Eagles of Nigeria in the New Era", also presently on sale on www. Amazon.com


Also at the link below, one can come into contact with a number of items, needed to support the Super Eagles at "COTE D' IVOIRE 2023" !!!!!


The book "Super Eagles of Nigeria : Pride of Africa" and "Super Eagles of Nigeria in the New Era" can also be gotten through me using my e-mail address as contact point. [email protected]