Our Chief Football Writer Fisayo Dairo today writes on the dilemma facing the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) over the future of Super Eagles head coach Jose Peseiro and believes that in Finidi George, they have an answer to the conundrum.
June ends today and so does the contract of Portuguese manager Jose Peseiro with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) but the governing body seems to be confronted with a big conundrum on whether or not to retain the services of Peseiro, forgetting that they have a readymade answer to that puzzle in Finidi George.
I had to briskly take a sip of my cup of coffee after that first paragraph, briefly lost in imagination as to how good things happen to humans, maybe providentially and they fail to realise it. I mean, how is it difficult for the NFF to see Finidi George as a solution to their problems on many levels?
Today June 30, 2023 also makes it exactly nine months that the “new” NFF board led by Ibrahim Musa Gusau was elected and inaugurated into office but two hundred and seventy three (273) days after, Gusau and his board continue to live in the shadow of the lowest ebb that the Amaju Pinnick-led board had brought Nigerian football into. When will Gusau open his own vista?
The Jose Peseiro situation offers this “new” board an opportunity to start taking their destiny in their own hands and accepting responsibility for whatever becomes of Nigeria’s national teams – and our football at large – without looking back at what Pinnick left them with.
You will be reading this article, learning of how the current Super Falcons head coach Randy Waldrum – a school teacher foisted on the most successful African women’s football team by Pinnick – is having a go at his employers in an insubordinate manner, but can you even blame the gentleman.
To the crux of this write-up, it is obvious to see that Nigerians are not ready to push their luck too far by having Peseiro take the Super Eagles to their next engagements – the upcoming World Cup qualifiers and the AFCON in January – but the NFF seem to be in a fix on a fear of the unknown.
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Thank you Peseiro but we’ve seen this before
One trait Jose Peseiro has not failed to exhibit since he took the reins as Nigeria’s head coach is his psychological smartness which is not unexpected of a supposed disciple of Jose Mourinho. Peseiro says the right things unlike his predecessor Gernot Rohr who had a young team all through his five years in charge.
Peseiro’s demeanour though is the least expected of a young man from a humble background doing his best to woo a pretty damsel who is coveted by many of his contemporaries but after the goal is reached, the behavioural pattern changes.
The 63-year old former Saudi Arabia coach has shown a great level of dedication and incredible commitment to the Super Eagles and the NFF, sometimes even on empty stomach – never willing to talk about salaries he’s being owed and even defend the Federation when need be BUT we’ve seen this before.
No Nigerian football fan can forget the Gernot Rohr days in a hurry and some of these things highlighted in Peseiro can resonate to this writer (and you, the reader) from Rohr until he secured the bag – an unnecessary extension after the 2019 AFCON tournament in Egypt which saw a new Gernot Rohr emerge.
Nigerians, perhaps from the hangover of the final days of Rohr to the failure to qualify for the World Cup in 2022 now look beyond Peseiro’s labour of love but focus on what the Super Eagles have done under him. They simply want out of the enforced relationship.
Jose Peseiro was appointed as Super Eagles coach on May 15, 2022.— Adepoju Tobi Samuel 🇳🇬 (@OgaNlaMedia) June 18, 2023
Technically, his contract has ended with Nigeria.
He has qualified for the AFCON.
Should the NFF extend the Portuguese contract or NOT? pic.twitter.com/FtAW5oNBb2
The heavy loss to Portugal in a friendly match and then a more ignominious home loss to Guinea Bissau in Abuja have not been mitigated by wins in Bissau and Monrovia and the team’s fans seem to have seen enough. But while they cannot particularly decide who should be their next coach, Finidi George is rhat name that ticks all boxes you can imagine.
When Finidi George made the decision to leave Spain and come manage in the Nigerian league two years ago, many of his friends and football fans who are overly critical of the league wondered what was going through his mind. Many consider the league a mad house where only psycho patients inhabit so, how can a sane, level headed Finidi attempt to venture into it?
Time has answered those questions. Finidi, within two years of managing one of the biggest football clubs in Nigeria, Enyimba FC has put himself out there as a sound football technocrat who possesses exactly what is needed to excel in the modern era of player power and fans’ unquenchable thirst for glory.
A lot is happening with the League champions— Emeka Nwani (@mekus102) June 24, 2023
The players are owed more than four months salary
A lot of allowances unpaid
Abia State Government not sure of what to do with the club now.@Adaeze_michael @ojeksaikhoje @ralphcgeorge @georgeakpayen @mitchokonta
Finidi probably took the Enyimba job the worst possible time for a coach, taking charge of a group of players who were not even up to the Enyimba class – seven players signed from the second division, four signed from relegated sides. This did not deter him from achieving the ultimate goal.
RELATED: Finidi leads Enyimba to league triumph
When players’ salaries and bonuses are delayed/owed in this league, a coach has to be at his man-managing best to achieve success with the group. This is exactly what Finidi did, leading Enyimba to their first league title in four years.
The club have at least thirty (30) first team players excluding a couple of academy graduates who were also given playing time by Finidi who excelled in managing them successfully, an area many coaches will struggle. The former Ajax man dealt with issues among players without sentiments and got them “playing for him” even with their tanks empty.
He is one of our own
For the first time in history, all African countries qualified for the World Cup will be led by coaches from their country:— Football Tweet ⚽ (@Football__Tweet) November 15, 2022
Rigobert Song: Cameroon 🇨🇲
Aliou Cisse: Senegal 🇸🇳
Walid Regragui: Morocco 🇲🇦
Otto Addo: Ghana 🇬🇭
Jalel Kadri: Tunisia 🇹🇳 pic.twitter.com/lpT1XUV3og
I observed with fascination how a lot of Nigerian football fans went green with envy during the last FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 when most of the African teams were coached by their former national team heroes. From Aliou Cisse of Senegal to Rigobert Song of Cameroon to Otto Addo of Ghana and the celebrated Walid Regragui of Morocco, the fans wanted it too.
Many Nigerian fans have infatuated with having a member of the Golden Era of Nigeria’s Super Eagles lead the team to glory once again after the success of the late Stephen Keshi in 2013/2014. This crave has continually led to names like Sunday Oliseh and Emmanuel Amunike not leaving their lips but here comes an unassuming, untainted and well equipped option – Finidi George.
Finidi has seemingly gone the route of Regragui who led Wydad Casablanca to the league title before taking over the Atlas Lions, to instant success in Qatar. No one knows what it takes to wear a Super Eagles jersey more than Finidi George, neither does anyone know the demands of the average Nigerian football fan more than the man that played for the team for more than 10 years.
Finidi George shows how it's done with a beautiful goal in training 🎯 🙌🏿 pic.twitter.com/kiPyFmHQyd— Enyimba FC (@EnyimbaFC) March 8, 2023
As a player, he won the UEFA Champions League which no player in the current Eagles squad can boast of, as of now. He also won the AFCON tournament and played at multiple World Cup competitions – these are enough to serve as a mentor and role model for the boys.
Finidi is a refined apostle of total football. He reenacted the 424 style of the 90s which saw his side creating plenty of scoring chances as seen in Emeka Obioma finishing topscorer of the league while Victor Mbaoma was second on the scorer’s chart in Finidi’s first season in charge.
While shuffling between the 4231 and 433 formations based on necessity, Enyimba won the most away games in the NPFL last term, not an easy feat in a league where players are often at their best in home games and he also has a 100% record in CAF competitions with Enyimba. Without a doubt, Finidi George is the answer to the NFF’s conundrum regarding Jose Peseiro’s future. He is right in the midst of them, do they even know?