How Finidi beat Amuneke, others to Eagles coaching job

Fresh facts about how Finidi George beat fan favourite Emmanuel Amuneke and other applicants to the Super Eagles job have emerged, The PUNCH reports.

Monday, the Nigerian Football Federation approved the recommendations of its Technical Committee to appoint Finidi as coach ahead of over 60 other local and foreign applicants.

Some of the other coaches who applied are US U-19 coach Michael Nsien, Spain-based former Katsina United coach Henry Makinwa, Sylvanus Okpala and Daniel Amokachi. Former Cameroon coach Antonio Conceicao and Dutchman Danny Bujis also reportedly applied for the job.

A member of the NFF Technical Committee, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said some stakeholders had tried to influence their decision in favour of their candidate.

He said Technical Committee members, however, resolved to stick to their guns and pick the best candidate for the position no matter whose ox was gored.

“Some of these people think they are the masters of the game, but they don’t know that some of us have been in this game for some time too. Do you know they set up a WhatsApp platform to decide and influence who will become the coach of the Super Eagles. But we snubbed them,” our source said.

“It could have been the other way round and we would still move on and support whoever the NFF picked.

“We know that some candidates that were not picked for the job would complain, that’s life for you. The important thing now is to support who is there and see how we can qualify for the World Cup. Now we have a manager, he’s going to coach the team, he has the desire to coach and he’ll definitely sit down with the federation officials to sort out his contract.”

On how they arrived at Finidi as the best choice for Eagles, our source said with just weeks to the crucial World Cup qualifiers against rivals South Africa, they needed someone who had an in-depth knowledge of the squad, and not a new coach who would come with a new philosophy alien to the players.

He added that Finidi, having served for 20 months under Peseiro, emerged the right man for the job, while his knowledge of domestic and continental football as current NPFL champions Enyimba also gave him the nod.

Our source added, “Finidi, with due respect to him, has been on ground, and he’s in tune with the dynamics of the modern game, and that for us is a big plus. He’s working with Enyimba, won a league title for them, has coached on the continent and he’s been busy coaching in recent years.

“At the national team level, he’s been with the Eagles as assistant and we know we have some tricky World Cup qualifiers ahead. A new coach might come in with tactics that the players will struggle to adapt to. We don’t need that now.

“Also, as a coach who understand the domestic league very well, his experience in this regard will come in handy when selecting players for the home-based players.”

The Technical Committee member added monetary considerations also played a role in Finidi’s choice for the job.

“Who will pay a foreign coach $70,000 in today’s Nigeria? The money is just not there,” our source added.
Meanwhile, some of the applicants have spoken on the process that led to the appointment of the new coach.

Even though Emmanuel Amuneke described the process as “fair”, he admitted that there was no interview to select the best candidate for the job.

“There was no interview (for the job), neither was there any talk about the job with the federation. There was no contact from the federation nor was there an offer to take the job. They have chosen a new coach, who is one of us, we just need to move on and support him,” Amuneke said.

When asked if he thought the process of selecting the candidate for the coaching role was transparent, US U-19 coach Michael Nsien, who also applied for the job, said, “It depends on people’s standards of process. There weren’t interviews, which I think is basic, it would give the appearance (that it was transparent) at least.”

Nsien, a former U-23 national team star, is positive Finidi will get a competent backroom staff to work with.

“Hopefully he is surrounded with good staff,” he said.

Another applicant, Sylvanus Okpala, who won the AFCON title in 1980 as a player and as an assistant coach in 2013, declined comments on the process that saw Finidi emerge as the winner but congratulated the former Ajax star.
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He said, “The important thing is that Finidi has been selected and he is there now. All he needs is the support of everyone to excel, but the biggest support he can get is the one he gives to himself to be successful and take the Eagles to where they belong.

“I feel okay with Finidi’s appointment as the new Super Eagles coach because all of us cannot be there and obviously only one person will be appointed among us. I congratulate him and I wish him the best, hoping that he will take the Eagles to the next level.”