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Finidi George: There will be gradual changes in Super Eagles

Expectations are high, but the new Newly appointed coach for the Super Eagles, Finidi George, has said there will be gradual changes in the Super…

Expectations are high, but the new Newly appointed coach for the Super Eagles, Finidi George, has said there will be gradual changes in the Super Eagles as he hopes to bring in extra-ordinary players from the local league into the national team. Speaking to Trust Sports after his unveiling in Abuja, the former Ajax winger, hinted on maximizing the use of the wings to execute his game plans as well as dominating the midfield.

Congratulations on your appointment. How happy are you with your appointment and unveiling as Super Eagles coach? 

I am happy naturally and this is a very big opportunity for me. A great one. 

How did you arrive at your assistant coaches?

It is always important to work with trusted people as I have in Enyimba. These are people that will tell you the truth and will come out to help. I must commend the NFF for giving me the opportunity to pick those I want and I think we are going to work in a good atmosphere.

It is said the coach is as good as his assistants, tell us more about them?

These are people who have been active in football since 2003. This part-time thing the president spoke about suits them as they will prepare and analyse games. Once they get into camp, they do their job. They are active and have to get permission from their clubs to come and help. It is a good thing. I have talked about trust and these are people who will tell me ‘coach, this is not working oo, let’s do this’. I don’t want people that will be saying ‘yes sir, yes sir’. They are people who bring out the best from the team.

The NFF has given you targets but what are your personal targets?

My aim is to qualify for the World Cup in 2026 and AFCON. You know, without winning our qualifiers, we can’t make it, so the focus now is to qualify for the World Cup and AFCON. Thereafter, when we qualify, we will then know the main targets.

There are concerns that there is little time for you to prepare for the qualifiers following your appointment, how do you intend to hit the ground running?

If you look at it, the main actors here are the players, they are not idle and they are busy playing for their clubs. So long as they are busy, I don’t have any problem executing my plans. My job now is to watch South Africa and the Benin Republic and analyse their strengths and weaknesses to see how we can capitalize on that. So long the players are fit and they come to camp, then we are good to go.

You are Enyimba coach, and there have been calls for the inclusion of more home based players in the team. Now you are the coach, what should we expect?

Of course, this is my third season with Enyimba and I have seen a lot of players in the league. If the opportunity doesn’t come, no one will push as the players are like abandoned. I will definitely watch lots of games, see those who are capable of playing and bring them on board. We have a lot of good players in the league but now I have to focus on areas I think they can help us with. We can’t overhaul a team that came second in the last AFCON. So, there will be changes but it will be gradual. We look at the midfield as we are loaded in the attack. We will look at those extraordinary players that can help us and definitely, they will come in. As I said earlier, I will move around the league and watch a lot of games. It’s not going to be like watching Enyimba against Remo Stars, it is watching players in Remo against Enyimba, watching players in 3SC, Plateau United, Kano Pillars and seeing those that will add value to what we want to do.

What are your football philosophies? Will the Super Eagles return to the old playing style the team is known for or will you be introducing your new style?

In football, there is no full defensive or full attacking team, you just have to have that balance. When you attack, you have to have players that are willing to defend as much as attacking so that when you lose the ball, you have bodies behind. There is no perfect playing style. We will try and have a formation that the players will be comfortable in. We have a lot of attacking players in Europe who are doing so well but we must have that balance while attacking to avoid the opponents having a chance. We will look at it to see how we get it right, there is no perfect formation.

What will then be your preferred formation?

We must cover the wings, have attacking players and must try to control the midfield. We must have a back four and have every area occupied by players. Some formations will not give you opportunities to cover those areas but we will play with a back four, three midfielders and three strikers.

In recent times, we have seen African coaches excelling for their countries, now you have joined the league, will you be drawing inspiration from them?

I am only focused on what we can do in Nigeria. They are African coaches and I am an African coach too. Like you heard the NFF president who has promised to support me and that is what every coach needs. If I have that support, I don’t think I have to look at what others are doing. I just have to focus on what I am doing, which is working with the players and look for how to get the results.

Will you still be a part of the Enyimba technical bench?

No, no, no, this job is bigger than Enyimba (laughs)

How committed will you be to the team and your relationship with the local players as regards opening camp with them?

I will not invite players and not use them. They have to commit themselves to the team and see how they can help. That will be our goal. Bringing players and camping them for two weeks will cost a lot of money. The NFF will be in the better position to answer but left to me, it is a good idea. It requires funding which lies with the federation.

What message do you have for your players?

They should be committed to the federation and the nation at large. We all say the pledge.


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