Nigeria appoint ex-assistant Finidi George as manager

Nigeria have confirmed Enyimba coach Finidi George as their new coach to replace Portuguese Jose Peseiro, whose contract was not renewed when it expired in February.

George, a Champions League winner with Ajax in 1995, spent the last 20 months as an assistant to Peseiro as the team went all the way to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations before losing out to the Ivory Coast. He was handed the role on an interim basis for two friendly matches in March after the departure of his Portuguese predecessor.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

In those games, Finidi led the team to a 2-1 win over Ghana and a 0-2 loss to Mali.

A statement from NFF's director of communications Ademola Olajire said: "The Board of Nigeria Football Federation on Monday approved the recommendation of its technical and development Committee to appoint former ace winger Finidi George as head coach of the senior men national football team, Super Eagles."

After Peseiro's departure, the NFF advertised the position and received multiple applications. By last week, the choice had narrowed down to George and his former international teammate Emmanuel Amunike.

An NFF official told ESPN that the choice of Finidi was not a hard one to make.

"We knew had been with the team for a while, he understands the team and the players and it would have been foolish to bring someone from outside with no time to prepare them for the qualifiers," the source said.

"Finidi has proven himself with Enyimba and he knows our local league inside out, so he should be able to see good players to invite to the Super Eagles."

A member of Nigeria's famed Class of 1994, the 52-year-old made his debut for Nigeria in 1991, scoring against Burkina Faso.

George went on to make 62 appearances for Nigeria, winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 1994 and scoring the goal in a 1-1 draw against Algeria that sealed Nigeria's qualification for their first ever FIFA World Cup in the same year, where he also provided the assist to Rashidi Yekini for Nigeria's first ever World Cup goal.

He also featured at the 1998 World Cup, and won gold, silver and bronze medals at the 1992, 1994, 2000 and 2002 AFCON tournaments.

Olajire added: "George's immediate task will be to guide the Super Eagles to victory in two 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin in Uyo and Abidjan respectively, in a little over five weeks. The matches are must-win encounters, with the Super Eagles lagging behind in third place in Group C of the African campaign behind Rwanda and South Africa."

While it is as yet unclear if the new coach will keep his job with Enyimba, or if he will appoint his own assistants, the former Real Betis and Ipswich winger takes over a team struggling to score goals despite being blessed with a generational embarrassment of riches upfront, with the likes of Victor Osimhen, Victor Boniface, Taiwo Awoniyi, Terem Moffi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Ademola Lookman, Cyriel Dessers and Paul Onuachu.

A stubborn defence carried the Super Eagles all the way to the AFCON final earlier this year, but they were let down by a stuttering attack.

Finidi's task will be to find a balance that keeps that defence near impregnable, while getting his team to create opportunities.