Nigeria to hire foreign technical director after poor World Cup qualifiers

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One month to the day he was officially unveiled, Nigeria have decided to move away from coach Finidi George as the main driver of the side, and opted to hire a foreign technical director for the men's national team.

An emergency meeting of the NFF Executive Committee on Wednesday was followed by a statement announcing the decision.

"The Executive Committee resolved to employ an expatriate Technical Adviser for the Super Eagles in the coming weeks, ahead of the AFCON qualifiers and the remaining FIFA World Cup qualifying matches."

This comes in the wake of disappointing results and performances in two World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin Republic in CAF's second window of 2026 World Cup qualifying.

It is unclear as yet what happens with George. There was no mention of whether or not he was fired. However, a top official, who did not want to be named, told ESPN that the federation is hiring a Technical Adviser, and George would remain as head coach, if he so chooses, in what would essentially be a demotion.

Nigeria, one of the favourites in the group along with South Africa, have only managed a measly three points from four matches after a 1-1 home draw against South Africa was followed by a damaging 1-2 loss at Benin Republic, ironically coached by former mentor Gernot Rohr.

After consecutive 1-1 draws against Lesotho and Zimbabwe respectively under Jose Peseiro, George's appointment was expected to right the ship in this window, with wins from both games, but that was not to be and a return of one point from six have left the Super Eagles chances of making it to the World Cup in serious jeopardy.

Under pressure from the Nigeria government, with the country's sports minister demanding an explanation even before the team had left Côte d'Ivoire, the NFF had no option but to act.

They did so, starting with an apology: "The Executive Committee wholeheartedly apologizes to Nigerians for the dismal output and subsequent very poor returns of the Senior Men National Team, Super Eagles, in four out of 10 matches in the ongoing qualification series for the 2026 FIFA World Cup finals.

"[The NFF] pledges to work assiduously and put necessary measures in place to ensure a better-prepared squad ahead of the AFCON 2025 qualifiers in September this year and the resumption of the World Cup qualifiers in March 2025."

The first of those measures, was the decision to hire an expatriate coach ahead of the Nations Cup qualifiers in September. The next is to reorganize the federation's technical department, and its policy-making technical committee.

George is not alone in taking flak. The players also came in for some uncharacteristically harsh criticism from the NFF after a bunch of them reported late to training camp in the build up to the games.

The NFF's statement continued: "Notwithstanding the challenges that attended the team's preparations for the Day 3 and Day 4 games of the FIFA World Cup qualifying matches, owing to a 38-hour nationwide industrial action, the Board expressed displeasure with the poor attitude of some of the players to the National Assignment.

"[We] unanimously decided in favour of a more robust scouting programme of outstanding Nigeria-eligible players from across the four corners of the universe, who can add tremendous value to the nation's flagship team."

Away from on-field matters, a sign of the pressure that the NFF has come under from government was buried in the fifth paragraph of the statement: "The Executive Committee also resolved that a Stakeholders' Forum be convened in a few weeks' time, to deliberate on amendments to the current NFF Statutes, in conjunction with world football-governing body, FIFA."

For years, stakeholders have called on the NFF to review the Statutes, especially with respect to the composition and eligibility to run for positions on the executive committee. Those calls have faced strong resistance from within the NFF Congress, especially from the state FA chairmen who make up the majority of the Congress, for fear that it would dilute their powers.

To get around these demands, the NFF set up a Reform Committee in 2018 to address some of the issues, but the committee's report was never adopted.

The amendments to the Statutes are expected to include expanded Congress and Executive Committee, as well as loosen eligibility criteria for running for the NFF board.