Should Nigeria keep faith in Finidi George?

Finidi George took charge of his first game as the official coach of the Super Eagles of Nigeria against South Africa on Friday, reports.

He served as the interim manager of the Super Eagles during the March International break, leading them to victory against Ghana and a loss to Mali.

Last month, the former Ajax right-winger was appointed by the Nigeria Football Federation as the head coach of the Nigerian Football team, immediately handing the responsibility of leading the Super Eagles to the former Enyimba International coach.

In his first major test, the Super Eagles were far from convincing. A lacklustre first-half display saw South Africa take the lead via Thema Zwane. A spirited second-half performance saw Nigeria go level through Fisayo Ayodele-Bashiru. They also stung the palms of Ronwen Hayden-Williams twice, while Samuel Chukwueze was denied via the crossbar.

Despite a much better second-half display, the Super Eagles are in tumultuous waters as regards qualification for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The three-time AFCON champions have drawn to Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and South Africa, and have their slot on the biggest stage slipping away from them, which begs the question.

Should Nigeria keep faith in Finidi George?

Jose Peseiro led Nigeria to 1-1 draws against Zimbabwe and Lesotho, increasing the pressure on the game against South Africa, which is no fault of Finidi George.

However, some of Finidi’s decisions were very questionable. Playing Paul Onuachu up-front, featuring Benjamin Tanimu at right-back and Osayi Samuel at left-back was a decision that came back to haunt the Super Eagles coach.

“Allow us to do our jobs. No one will tell me when to make changes, the crowd can be shouting. Everyone is a coach, when you stand outside you see, but when you sit there you don’t see anything. Onuachu stayed longer in the game, it was our decision, and that should not bother anyone. We wanted to introduce Boniface and Moffi, but Semi had a knock and we had to take him off and introduce Moffi and Onyedika. The fans and media would shout for different players if they don’t perform well, the shout will be, take him off,” Finidi said in his South Africa post-match conference when he was quizzed about not taking Paul Onuachu off.

While some fans have argued that the former Real Betis winger needs time, the Super Eagles do not have time. Nigeria are 5th in Group C, one point above Zimbabwe who occupy the last position. Lesotho are leading the group with five points, and are on course to qualify directly from the group.

Whether or not Finidi will continue as coach of the Super Eagles will heavily depend on how Nigeria plays against Benin Republic tomorrow. A win reinstates Nigeria’s journey to the World’s biggest football journey. Anything outside of that, Finidi will have some tough questions to answer.