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Let’s give Finidi George a chance

“With Finidi George, the Super Eagles of Nigeria cannot fly as expected. We are still going to have a lot of trouble. “Our football will…

“With Finidi George, the Super Eagles of Nigeria cannot fly as expected. We are still going to have a lot of trouble. “Our football will go in shambles. Finidi George doesn’t have the capacity. In fact, Amunike is still a bit better than Finidi. “Finidi George is going to put our football house in a coma. This is a message to the NFF president.”

If you are wondering whose damning verdict is this, wonder no more. These are the words of a known spiritualist, Primate Eliajh Ayodele, founder and spiritual head of the INRI evangelical spiritual church, Lagos State, who recently took to his known X (formerly known as Twitter) handle, to make this shocking prophecy about Finidi George the newly appointed head coach of the  Super Eagles.

After reading his prophecy as reported by Legit.ng, it became necessary to plead with other Nigerians who hold the same views as the Primate to give the coach a chance. Since he was appointed to lead the Super Eagles, a majority of the people have expressed their doubts about his capabilities. Only a few people believe that he is qualified to serve as the coach of the senior national team.

Since some Nigerians are still suffering from colonial mentality, anytime the position of the coach of the national team becomes vacant, such people usually advocate for an expatriate coach to be hired to lead the team. Even before the likes of Adegboye Onigbinde, Christian Chukwu, Austin Eguavoen, Amodu Shuaibu, Samson Siasia, Sunday Oliseh, and Stephen Keshi had opportunities to coach the Super Eagles, they had to overcome obstacles placed in their paths by lovers of foreign coaches.

The same thing played out recently before Finidi George was appointed. Although some Nigerians canvassed for an indigenous coach to replace the Portuguese, who last handled the team, many still wanted another foreigner to take charge of the team. However, after going back and forth, the mantle eventually fell on the unlikely candidate Finidi George. Unlikely in the sense that many had believed that if the NFF was going to appoint an indigenous coach, it would be the more experienced Emmanuel Amuneke.

Well, after a spell of hide and seek, the NFF settled for the former Ajax Amsterdam star who recently served as the assistant coach of the Super Eagles. As said earlier, his appointment has elicited condemnation from football stakeholders and other lovers of the game like Primate Ayodele, who believe Finidi does not have the technical capacity to lead the team.

According to such people, the NFF has consciously put a square peg in a round hole. Apart from his inexperience, it is said Finidi demonstrated a lack of control over his players when he briefly led the team in an acting capacity. What transpired between him and some of the players after the two friendly matches against Ghana and Mali is seen by many as a sign of things to come.

Before now, some of us openly supported other candidates, but a new coach has been appointed, so it is now time to support him to succeed. When we differed, it was the time we were all trying to help the NFF to pick the best candidate for the job. However, the football federation, after considering so many factors, made their choice, which we all must respect. We can advise the federation, but they have the final say as far as the appointment of coaches is concerned. It is for this same reason that some of us were a bit worried when news began to fly around that the Minister of Sports was trying to impose a candidate on the NFF.

And even after the appointment of Finidi was announced, such rumour mongers still claimed that the federation had incurred the wrath of the Minister for disobeying him. According to those people who like to trade in lies, the Minister had wanted Amuneke to be appointed coach of the Super Eagles. It is doubtful if the Minister made attempts to impose any candidate on the NFF. The delay was due to other reasons best known to the custodians of football in Nigeria.

As said earlier, the time has come for us to unanimously support Finidi George in the arduous task that is before him. Of course, he can’t boast of the experience some of us are talking about, but he is not a complete novice when it comes to coaching. Having played at the highest level under some of the best coaches during his time, George must have gained technical knowledge that will help him in carrying out his present assignment.

Moreover, for him to be around the team for over a year and still applied to lead the technical crew, it means he believes in his abilities. Therefore, we have to give him the benefit of the doubt. We must desist from making wayward comments that are capable of draining his little confidence. If he is continuously exposed to unbefitting remarks that portray him as a grossly incompetent coach, he might easily lose focus.

Even as I implore Nigerians to support the coach now that he has been handed one of the most difficult jobs in Nigeria, it is necessary to advise him to help himself. He must hit the ground running. (I hear someone say not in the same manner BAT has done). His ‘baptism of fire’ is no doubt the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier against South Africa here in Nigeria in June. George must not lose that match because anything less than victory will have dire consequences for the team and his job.

However, if he begins on a winning note, even his die-hard opponents will mellow down and allow him to do his work. Sometimes, it is not too difficult to impress Nigerian football fans. A little show of brilliance or competence can win their hearts. At the same time, they can be unforgiving when forced to swallow a bitter pill like the one that was tucked down their throats by Francis Uzoho in 2022 at the MKO Abiola National Stadium.

So, right now, the ball is in the court of the new coach. It is not possible for his appointment to receive overwhelming acceptance, but he can win over his critics with good results with the Super Eagles. Despite his exploits with the national teams of Togo and Mali, most Nigerians still doubted the late Stephen Keshi until he won the 2013 AFCON.

Therefore, George, whose profile as a coach is still low, has no reason to complain that he is being undermined. He should get down to work to prove his doubters wrong. But first, he must be given a chance to do so. On this note, I congratulate the coach as he savours his moment in the sun.

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