We were better than Mali despite loss, says Finidi George

.Eagles shift focus to World Cup qualifiers

Despite Super Eagles’ 0-2 loss to the Eagles of Mali on Tuesday night, Coach Finidi George said that the Nigerians were the better team.

Mali scored in each half to beat Nigeria 2-0 in the game played at the Stade de Marrakech, Morocco.

Tuesday’s loss to Eric Chelle’s side was Nigeria’s first to Mali since 1975.

After the game, George said the Malians proved to be better marksmen, as they utilised the few chances they had in the game, while Nigeria could not convert theirs.

He said: “If you take away those two goals, you will think we are the winning team. That is football, it is what it is. You win sometimes and you lose sometimes.

“It is a friendly game, you see one or two players that can be used in the future, that is the most important thing.”

George is one of the coaches vying to become Super Eagles’ substantive manager following the exit of Jose Peseiro.

The Enyimba of Aba coach said the friendly games in Morocco has given an insight into the enormity of the job before anybody the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) picks for the position.

The Super Eagles contingent to the friendly matches against Ghana and Mali has departed the ‘Red City,’ with most of the players flying back to their bases in Europe.

Officials, including Coach George and other technical and administrative staff, were scheduled to depart Casablanca aboard a Royal Air Maroc flight to Lagos last night.

After grieving over the unexpected loss to the AFCON semifinalists, defender and on-field captain, Kenneth Omeruo, assured that the players are determined to give their all for maximum points when the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers resume in June.

“We went into the match against Mali determined to win, just as we did against Ghana. In the end, they took their chances and we failed to take ours. That’s football. You just have to take the chances that come your way.”

“June is only a few weeks away. We are focused on the matches against South Africa and Benin Republic. Many players in the group have not played at the World Cup before and they see this as the big opportunity to be there. We cannot afford to let ourselves and the nation down.”

Nigeria will take on South Africa in Uyo and then confront Benin Republic away from home in the international window of June 3 to 11, in the Matchdays 3 and 4 of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign

Meanwhile, Super Eagles’ winger, Simon Moses, who was carried off during the game after colliding with Mali’s goalkeeper, Mamadou Samassa, is likely to miss the rest of the season through the injury he copped in the game.

According to NFF sources, the 28-year-old, who was taken to a Moroccan hospital for initial treatment, has been diagnosed of a fractured fibula.

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