NFF board to decide Super Eagles’ new manager next week

Onyeka joins injured list against Mali

The executive board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) will meet next week to decide on the vacant Super Eagles manager’s job, a member of the federation’s technical committee has said.

The Super Eagles have been playing under interim coach, Finidi George, following the exit of Jose Peseiro, who led the team to the second position at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations last month.

According to the NFF, more than 50 interested coaches have applied to replace the Portuguese, whose contract was not renewed when it expired last month.

The NFF technical committee member, who pleaded anonymity, told The Guardian that the federation wants to ensure that the Super Eagles’ new coach is settled before the team’s crucial World Cup qualifier against South Africa in Uyo.

He said that the federation has been under pressure from interest parties lobbying for their preferred candidates to get the Eagles’ job.

He added that the board and the technical committee are being careful in choosing a coach because “we don’t want to make the type of mistake that cost Nigeria the 2022 World Cup.”

The Guardian learnt that while some members of the board are inclined to handing the job to George, who has impressed within the short period he has handled the side, there is a strong lobby championed by APC Governors’ Forum chairman, Hope Uzodinma, rooting for former Super Eagles’ forward, Emmanuel Amunike.

Apart from George and Amunike, other prominent candidates for the job are former Super Eagles stars, Daniel Amokachi, Henry Makinwa, Sunday Oliseh, Ndubuisi Egbo, Sylvanus Okpalla and U.S. U-17 team handler, Michael Nsien.

Meanwhile, Super Eagles interim coach, Finidi George, has promised that the team would get another victory under him when they confront Mali today in Marrakech, Morocco.

George led the three-time African champions to a 2-1 defeat of Ghana in their first game of the FIFA window on Friday.

George must now do without defender Calvin Bassey and horsepower midfielder, Frank Onyeka, who are injured and will not be part of this night’s ensemble against the 1972 AFCON runners-up.

Already, the Super Eagles have been highly-strung by the absence of key men like forwards Victor Osimhen and Victor Boniface, and defenders William Ekong, Olaoluwa Aina and Zaidu Sanusi. Defenders Gabriel Osho and Tyronne Ebuehi, and forward Taiwo Awoniyi also had to pull out because of injuries.

Yet, the former Ajax Amsterdam and Real Betis winger is upbeat that those who dimmed the Black Stars will also fly above the other Eagles.

“We cannot at this time be dwelling on the injuries and absences that we have to cope with. Our intention has always been to win these two matches and then look forward to the World Cup qualifiers in June. We are determined to keep up the momentum and sustain the winning mentality derived from beating the Black Stars,” George said yesterday morning.

Incidentally, the last of Finidi George’s 62 caps for Nigeria came against the Eagles of Mali. ‘The Gazelle’ was involved when on February 9, 2002 the Super Eagles beat host nation Mali in the city of Mopti 1-0 to win the bronze medals of the 23rd Africa Cup of Nations.

Mali signalled their readiness for this encounter with a 2-0 spanking of Mauritania also in Morocco on Friday.

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