Former Super Eagles star warns Finidi George over ambitious backroom staff

Newly appointed Super Eagles head coach Finidi George has been cautioned against allowing the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to impose an assistant coach on him.

George was initially appointed as caretaker coach of the Super Eagles for the March international friendlies against Ghana and Mali but has since been handed the job on a permanent basis. The Enyimba boss has a huge task in front of him after taking over from Jose Peseiro.

Under Peseiro, the Super Eagles reached the final of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024) in Ivory Coast but fell short after losing to the hosts. George’s immediate task is to lead Nigeria to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, having started the qualifying campaign without a win in their two matches so far.

With the World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin Republic just a month away, the NFF are facing a race against time to put together a formidable backroom staff for the Super Eagles boss. The NFF are currently in negotiations with Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) side Enyimba to secure the full release of their manager, while also actively working to supply him with a backroom staff ahead of June’s World Cup qualifiers.

Ifeanyi Udeze warns Finidi George over problematic assistants 

One of the key areas that the NFF would have to prioritise is who assists George, and former Nigeria international Ifeanyi Udeze has called on the Federation to desist from imposing anyone on the 53-year-old.

The former West Bromwich Albion and PAOK defender believes George must be allowed to select his own assistants, insisting that picking a deputy who would want the Super Eagles boss’ job would be problematic. 

Udeze, who made 30 appearances for Nigeria from 2000 to 2005 and featured at the 2002 AFCON and World Cup tournaments, further cautioned George against taking an ex-player as his assistant.

“I don’t want to see an ex-player who will come and give Finidi problems. The NFF must not give him assistants who will try to take the job from him. He should instead be given a free hand to bring his assistants,” Udeze said, as quoted by Score Nigeria.

The names linked to Super Eagles assistant coach job

Since George was announced as the substantive coach of the Super Eagles, a number of his former teammates have backed him to succeed. George himself was part of Nigeria’s golden era of players who qualified for the country’s first-ever World Cup and also won the AFCON in 1994.

His ex-teammate and former African Footballer of The Year, Victor Ikpeba recently backed him to excel and utilize the talents in the local league, considering his experience in the NPFL. Tijani Babangida also expressed his happiness at George’s appointment, describing him as a “solid choice.”

Meanwhile, some names have popped up as potential candidates to be appointed as George’s assistant. Recent reports suggest the NFF are considering former players Emmanuel Amuneke and Daniel Amokachi for the role.

Michael Nsien and Usman Abdallah have also been mooted as potential assistant coaches of the Nigeria national team. George is, however, expected to meet the top brass of the NFF in the coming days to discuss who his deputy will be. The former Ajax Amsterdam and Real Mallorca forward recently called for support from the NFF and all Nigerians as he aims to lead the Super Eagles back to their glory days.

With Nigeria currently winless in their World Cup qualifying campaign and occupying the third position in their group, the upcoming matches against South Africa and Benin are must-wins for George and his players.  George currently has a record of one win and one defeat from the two games he has managed as Nigeria’s head coach. He will be looking to better that with the games that are coming up. 

Former Super Eagles star warns Finidi George over ambitious backroom staff
Emmanuel Ayamga

Emmanuel Ayamga is an Asante Kotoko fan and a passionate sports journalist with a little over five years of experience writing about African football.

His articles and features have been published in renowned news media like The Guardian, DW, Al Jazeera and Sportskeeda. His bylines can also be found in the UK journals World Soccer Magazine and These Football Times.