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Finidi to lead Super Eagles in friendlies against Ghana, Mali

Finidi to lead Super Eagles in friendlies against Ghana, Mali

Former Nigeria forward Finidi George will occupy the chief’s corner in the dugout when the Super Eagles confront West African arch-rivals Ghana in an international friendly in Marrakech on Friday.

The 52-year-old former Ajax Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and Real Betis (Spain) winger, who made a scoring debut for fatherland in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Burkina Faso at the National Stadium, Lagos on 27th July 1991, has been appointed by the NFF to hold the reins in the meantime as a group of 22 players take on Ghana and Mali in this month’s international window.

On his debut in 1991, George, who also featured for Calabar Rovers and Sharks FC in the domestic scene before heading to Europe, scored one and made four assists for legendary ‘goalsfather’ Rashidi Yekini (of blessed memory), and also assisted the latter to score Nigeria’s first-ever FIFA World Cup goal against Bulgaria in Dallas, USA on 19th June 1994.

George scored the goal that took Nigeria to her first FIFA World Cup finals, when he put Nigeria ahead against hosts Algeria in a crucial qualifier in Algiers on 8th October 1993. The match eventually ended 1-1 and earned Nigeria a ticket to the finals in America.

On Friday, George, from a family of football stars (elder brother Alari and younger brother Igeniwari of blessed memory were established players), will bellow instructions from the touchline, 21 months after he began to understudy Portuguese José Santos Peseiro, who led the Eagles to runner-up position at the 34th Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire earlier in the year.

As at Tuesday lunchtime, 12 of the 22 players expected had arrived in Morocco’s fourth-largest city, with defenders Gabriel Osho and Tyronne Ebuehi, and forwards Victor Osimhen and Taiwo Awoniyi having been knocked out by injury.

At the team’s Adam Park Hotel in Marrakech are goalkeepers Stanley Nwabali and Olorunleke Ojo, defenders Calvin Bassey, Semi Ajayi, Jamilu Collins, Bruno Onyemaechi and Benjamin Tanimo, midfielders Alex Iwobi, Raphael Onyedika and Alhassan Yusuf, and forwards Moses Simon, Nathan Tella, Cyriel Dessers, Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, Sadiq Umar and Ademola Lookman.

Goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, defender Chidozie Awaziem, midfielders Frank Onyeka and Wilfred Ndidi, and forward Kelechi Iheanacho were being expected in Marrakech by Tuesday. Only Turkey-based defender Bright Osayi-Samuel is being expected on Wednesday.

The African vice champions will also take on the Les Aigles of Mali at the same Grand Stade de Marrakech on Tuesday, 26th March.

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