Is Antonio Conceicao set to replace Finidi as Super Eagles coach?

Finidi George will have a lot to contend with in the coming days as his short tenure as the Super Eagles coach comes under scrutiny.

Nigeria's recent 1-1 draw with South Africa in Uyo and subsequent 2-1 loss to Benin in Abidjan in the recent FIFA World Cup qualifiers have sparked widespread debate about Finidi George's future as head coach of the Super Eagles.

Although the team managed to secure just one point out of a possible six, the performances in both games have put Finidi's coaching style and man-management skills under scrutiny.

'Let us do our job!’ – Finidi George blasts Super Eagles fans over Boniface clamour
Photo by IMAGO

Finidi to stay or not?

After Victor Osimhen's injury, it was widely expected that Bayer Leverkusen's Victor Boniface would step in as his replacement.

However, Finidi's decision not to start Boniface in either game has raised questions about his selection criteria and personal management approach alongside a litany of issues related to formations and squad management.

Finidi responded to criticism by telling the press to let him do his job without interference.

These remarks, coupled with the disappointing results, have become a hot topic among Nigerian football fans and the hierarchy at the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

In the wake of the poor performances and ensuing controversy, the Minister of Sports convened a closed-door meeting with the embattled coach, the President of the NFF, and other key officials.

The main agenda, according to Afrik-Foot, was to discuss how to salvage Nigeria's World Cup qualification campaign.

Super Eagles
Photo by Icon Sport

Sources within the football community revealed two main discussions circulating in the corridors of power.

The first was the potential invocation of the performance-based clause in Finidi's contract to relieve him of his duties, a move that was not widely supported among the executives.

The second, more favored option, was to appoint a foreign coach with Finidi serving as his assistant. The most prominent name mentioned in these discussions is Portuguese coach Antonio Conceicao.

Who is Antonio Conceicao?

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© Iconsport

Antonio Conceicao's name has made the rounds along the corridors of the Nigeria Football Federation in the past few days.

It is worthy to note that the 62-year-old Portuguese applied to coach the Super Eagles before Finidi George was ultimately chosen by the NFF.

As a player, Conceicao represented Vizela, Braga, and Porto before transitioning into coaching. He began his coaching career at Braga and gained further experience at various clubs in Portugal and Romania.

Conceicao's most recent national team role was with Cameroon, where he coached the Indomitable Lions from 2019 to 2022 and led them to a third-place finish at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

He has also played once for the Portuguese national team and has expressed a desire to coach the Super Eagles. after he left the Lions position in Cameroon.

According to sources within the Federation, Conceicao's name has resurfaced in the discussions, and it remains to be seen how the situation will unfold.

The NFF have yet to officially communicate the outcome of the crisis meeting, but it will be interesting to see if they pursue the Conceicao option, possibly bringing him in as head coach with Finidi as his assistant, or if they decide to maintain the current setup.

Update

The Nigeria Football Federation has decided after their executive meeting on Thursday to hire a foreign Technical Adviser for the Super Eagles ahead of the start of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in September and the resumption of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers next March.

The communique released after the meeting also revealed that the NFF plans resolved to beef up the NFF Technical Department with more qualitative hands.

Equally, the Technical and Development Sub-Committee will be re-jigged with immediate effect.

Is Antonio Conceicao set to replace Finidi as Super Eagles coach?
Andrew Randa

Andrew Randa is a veteran Nigerian sports journalist with over 20 years of experience covering the beautiful game across Africa. Andrew served as a Media Officer for Nigeria's U-20 Men's National Team for three years, offering a unique perspective on the future stars of Nigerian football.

Beyond reporting, Andrew is a pioneer in sports graphics creation within Nigeria. His expertise extends to sports kit design, making him a true multi-faceted talent in the African sports landscape.

Andrew's experience is vast, with collaborations encompassing prestigious names like Kickoff, SuperSport, the NFF (Nigeria Football Federation), and the NPFL (Nigeria Professional Football League)