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Judgement passed on George ? –



Judgement Passed On George ? -


Amidst the uncertainty following Jose Peseiro’s departure as Nigeria coach, this month’s friendlies represented an opportunity for erstwhile assistant Finidi George to stake a claim for the national team job.

The Enyimba coach is, according to reports, one of as many as 30 applicants for the Super Eagles role on a full-time basis.

The 52-year-old was placed in charge for games against Ghana and Mali, with the view that a good pair of results would bolster the former international’s chances.

The outcomes in Morocco, however, were mixed – with the 2-1 win over the Black Stars followed by a 2-0 defeat by Mali.


Public reaction swung from positive to negative over the space of four days, with critics saying George is not ready for the top job.

However, veteran defender Kenneth Omeruo is keen for the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations winner to be handed the reins.

“One difference is he wants us to play good football and I like that,” the 30-year-old told BBC Sport Africa.

“I actually think he knows what he is doing, and he deserves to be given the job.”

Choices limited by injuries

Detractors point to the manner in which Mali dominated the contest in Marrakech on Tuesday as proof of George’s unsuitability for the role.



His decision-making around selection and substitutions has also been questioned, with many struggling to understand the lack of minutes afforded to players such as Nathan Tella, Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, Umar Sadiq and back-up goalkeepers Olorunleke Ojo and Francis Uzoho.


While these are valid concerns, his defenders have been quick to cite mitigating circumstances.



George only assumed the role a few days before facing Ghana and, while the execution of his tactical ideas has not been perfect, both friendlies were departures from the defence-first approach that held sway in the latter days of Peseiro.


The former Ajax, Real Betis and Ipswich Town winger also had to contend with a number of injuries to key players, as close to half the starting XI from the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final in February was unavailable, impacting team chemistry and limiting options.


While George has to bear responsibility for his choices he was also dealt a poor hand, having been tasked to lead the Super Eagles with no technical assistance aside from goalkeeping coach Abiodun Baruwa .



It is also not the case that Mali, quarter-finalists at the recent Nations Cup, are a side Nigeria should be embarrassed to lose to.


Perhaps the biggest point in George’s favour is that the players have responded well to his coaching.

“The training programs were very good and players were giving 100 percent in training,” Omeruo said.



“I think we played very good football [in the] second half (against Mali). We weren’t waiting to be attacked. If we converted our chances, we could have done the job.”


Former winger George cages strikers

George’s decision to start the match against Mali without a focal point in attack, though ultimately futile, could be seen as him seeking to address the inevitable shortfall in midfield against a team which routinely fields four central midfielders.



Natural strikers Sadiq and Cyriel Dessers were surprisingly left on the bench, with George opting for Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho in the lead striker role and winger Moses Simon behind him.


Dessers replaced Simon, who was stretchered off injured after 29 minutes, and blasted a great chance over the bar in the 64th minute.


A first-half goal from El Bilal Toure, following a defensive slip by Chidozie Awaziem, and Kamory Doumbia’s superb late strike gave the Eagles their first win over Nigeria in almost 49 years.



The decision not to field a recognised striker was a gamble that did not pay off, but the stakes are so high for the Super Eagles that such an error, even in a friendly, is considered by many as indicative of the risk involved in hiring George.


Having dropped four points at the start of their qualifying campaign for the 2026 World Cup, Nigeria will reconvene in June knowing that maximum points against South Africa and Benin are key to getting back on track in Group C.



Under those circumstances, entrusting the role to George is seen as a leap of faith – one which could make or break the Super Eagles’ chances of reaching the finals.


The coach, for his part, has refused to comment on the possibility of getting the job on a permanent basis, declaring himself grateful for the chance to manage the team for two important friendlies.


“I think it was just a few mistakes that cost us the match,” George said after the Mali defeat.



“It was not a bad game. Good intensity, we created a couple of chances, but didn’t score. And in a game like this, if you make mistakes you will be punished.


“The positives are there for all to see. I am equally grateful for the opportunity to lead this amazing group and my country.”

Contenders vying for Nigeria hot seat

Nigeria have been without a coach since February, when Peseiro’s contract was not renewed, and George faces varied competition for a place in the Super Eagles dugout.


Among those who have reportedly applied for the vacant post include 1994 African Footballer of the Year, and former Tanzania coach, Emmanuel Amuneke.


Another notable applicant is Ndubuisi Egbo, who in 2020 at KF Tirana became the first African coach to lead a European team to a league title and qualification to the Uefa Champions League or any European competition.


Fast-rising Michael Nsien, coach of the United States Under-19s, threw his hat into the ring and has since won plaudits after speaking about his strategy to improve the three-time African champions.



Meanwhile, Portuguese Toni Conceicao, who led Cameroon to a third place finish at the 2021 Nations Cup tournament on home soil, has also applied to lead the Super Eagles.



Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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President Federation Cup: At least five Premier clubs are doomed for elimination



Star War in Akwa as Lobi Stars face Shooting Stars. One Premier League club will be eliminated

No fewer than five clubs in the Nigeria Premier League will be eliminated this week from the President Federation Cup.

At the moment, 11 of the 17 premier league clubs are on course as the knock-out competition gets to the Round of 32.

Undoubtedly, the non-application of seeding has seen five fixtures pitching the top clubs together while another five pitched lower division clubs against one another.

The remaining six pairings have premier league clubs facing lower ranked teams. These include: relegation-threatened Akwa United facing Zamfara United in Abuja and Gombe United facing former top division sides, El-Kanemi Warriors in Kaduna.  

Another ‘mixed fixture’ will see Premier sides, Kwara United facing Warri Wolves while Abia Warriors will face Sporting Supreme of the FCT.


Premier sides, Bendel Insurance will face Wikki Tourists of Bauchi as Enyimba are pitched against Akwa Ibom’s FC Rockets.

But nothing is guaranteed to the Premier League sides as knockout competitions are replete with underdogs upstaging power houses.

No matter the situations, five of the Premier League are doomed for elimination. Former champions Lobi Stars and Shooting Stars in a “Star War” in Awka.

Plateau United and  Sunshine Stars are meeting in Abuja just as Rivers United will face fellow Premier League sides, Niger Tornadoes in Auchi.

Katsina United and Bayelsa United will play in Abuja while Doma United face  Kano Pillars in Bauchi.



Bendel Insurance (Edo) Vs Wikki Tourists (Bauchi) – Abuja Area 3 – 22/05/24 – 4pm

EFCC FC (FCT) Vs Edel FC (Anambra) – Ilorin – 22/05/24 – 4pm

ABS FC (Kwara) Vs Kebbi United (Kebbi) – Abuja Goal Project – 23/05/24 – 4pm

Akwa United (Akwa Ibom) Vs Zamfara United Feeders (Zamfara) – Abuja Bwari – 23/05/24 – 4pm


Gombe United (Gombe) Vs El-Kanemi Warriors (Borno) – Kaduna – 22/05/24 – 4pm

Lobi Stars (Benue) Vs Shooting Stars (Oyo) – Awka – 22/05/24 – 4pm

Ikorodu City (Lagos) Vs Coal City (Enugu) – Benin City – 23/05/24 – 4pm

Hammola Int’l (Osun) Vs Inter Lagos (Lagos) – Ibadan – 22/05/24 – 4pm

Warri Wolves (Delta) Vs Kwara United (Kwara) – Enugu – 22/05/24 – 4pm


Abia Warriors (Abia) Vs Sporting Supreme (FCT) – Benin City – 22/05/24 – 4pm

Nasarawa United (Nasarawa) Vs Sokoto United (Sokoto) – Kano – 22/05/24 – 4pm

FC One Rocket (Akwa Ibom) Vs Enyimba FC (Abia) – Yenagoa – 22/05/24 – 4pm

Plateau United (Plateau) Vs Sunshine Stars (Ondo) – Abuja Goal Project – 22/05/24 – 4pm 

Rivers United (Rivers) Vs Niger Tornadoes (Niger) – Auchi – 22/05/24 – 4pm


Katsina United (Katsina) Vs Bayelsa United (Bayelsa) – Abuja Bwari – 22/05/24 – 4pm

Doma United (Gombe) Vs Kano Pillars (Kano) – Bauchi – 22/05/24 – 4pm

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South Africa plans for ‘Mother-of-all-Battle’ in final Olympic qualifier with Nigeria –



South Africa plans for ‘Mother-of-all-Battle’ in final Olympic qualifier with Nigeria -

Banyana Banyana game plan was to either beat the Super Falcons at home as they did two years ago in Lagos or earn a draw in Friday’s first leg match of Olympic qualifier in Abuja.


That did not happen as Rasheedat Ajibade’s penalty kick earned Nigeria an outright 1-0 win over South Africa – a first win since the Super Falcons’ 1-0 win in Limbe, Cameroon in 2016.


But according to an account in the South African Football Association website, “Banyana Banyana will have to give it all in the second leg.”



It reported that Banyana Banyana came back from the first half break a much more improved side but failed to convert the few chances that came their way.


“Outstanding goalkeeper Kaylin Swart had to work overtime to deny the hosts from extending their lead.

“Despite creating numerous chances for an equaliser, the game ended 1-0 for the Super Falcons.”



The two African giants will lock horns for the second leg on Tuesday at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria where coach Desiree Ellis’ charges will be hoping to overturn the deficit.


Coach Ellis believes they are still in the game and can turn things around in the second leg on Tuesday.

“Look, we said it was going to be a tight game but we are hopeful of overturning this result in the second leg.”


“We are still in the game. We created a couple of chances, a penalty decided the match but the game is not over.


“I thought in the second half we raised our game a lot and created good chances and could have equalized.


“Maybe we could also have gotten a penalty at the end when Jermaine was fouled but I’m very proud of the team and we will take it back to Pretoria,” said Ellis.


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Nigeria’s Super Falcons on slippery path to Paris 2024 –



Nigeria’s Super Falcons on slippery path to Paris 2024 -

Nigeria’s Super Falcons beat Banyana Banyana of South Africa 1-0 in their first leg of the final qualifiers for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The return leg comes up on Tuesday in Pretoria.

The South Africans consider the result a good one going into the final qualifier.

Skipper of the side, Rasheedat Ajibade scored the lone goal from a penalty spot in the 43rd minute.

It is Nigeria’s first outright defeat of South Africa since 2018 when Nigeria excelled in an ensuing penalty shootout after a goalless draw in the final match of the Africa  Cup of Nations in Ghana.

In their next two matches.


First, they pulled off a big upset beating Nigeria 4-2 to win the Aisha Buhari Cup in Lagos in September 2021 and followed up with another 2-1 win in a Group C match at the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco.


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