Nigeria appoint George to succeed Peseiro

Finidi George in action for Nigeria in 2000

Former international Finidi George has been announced as the new head coach of Nigeria, succeeding Jose Peseiro.

The 53-year-old was placed in interim charge of the Super Eagles after the departure of the Portuguese following Nigeria's defeat by Ivory Coast in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final in February.

George, also coach of club side Enyimba, oversaw two friendly matches last month, beating Ghana 2-1 before a 2-0 loss against Mali.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) confirmed his appointment on Monday after approving a recommendation from its technical and development committee.

Former Ajax and Real Betis winger George spent 20 months as an assistant to Peseiro and is expected to remain in charge of Enyimba, whom he led to the Nigerian title last year, until the end of the season.

George scored six goals in 62 international appearances for Nigeria and was part of the 'Golden Generation' which won the Nations Cup in 1994, the same year in which the Super Eagles appeared at the Fifa World Cup for the first time in the USA.

He will be expected to produce immediate results as Nigeria's next fixtures in June are two potentially crucial qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup, which will also be held in North America.

The Super Eagles' campaign needs reviving after the three-time continental champions drew their first two games in Group C.

The NFF has labelled the home match against South Africa and the game against Benin on neutral ground as "must-win encounters".

George is thought to have beaten off competition from a host of contenders for one of the most high-profile roles in African football, including former Super Eagles team-mate Emmanuel Amuneke and Spaniard Domenec Torrent, a former analyst and coach for Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola

The NFF has not announced the length of his contract.

Success on the pitch and in the dugout

One of Nigeria's best wingers of all time, George had a glittering career at club and international level.

He won three league titles with Ajax, who he joined in 1993, and also lifted the Uefa Champions League, Uefa Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup with the Dutch giants in 1995.

Spells at Betis, where he was a runner-up in the Copa del Rey in 1997, Mallorca and in England with Ipswich Town followed.

But he also registered several achievements with the Super Eagles after scoring on his international debut against Burkina Faso in 1991.

George netted the goal which secured Nigeria's qualification for the 1994 World Cup, going on to set up his country's first ever goal at the finals against Bulgaria.

He was also part of the squad which featured at the 1998 tournament in France.

George helped Nigeria beat Zambia 2-1 to lift the Nations Cup trophy in 1994 and was part of the squads which finished as runners-up in 2000 and as bronze medallists in 1992 and 2002.

He took over at Nigeria's most successful club Enyimba in 2021, leading them to their first title in four years by winning the league two years later.

Super Eagles expect new style under George

William Troost-Ekong after the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final
Nigeria finished as runners-up at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations but captain William Troost-Ekong was named as the player of the tournament [Getty Images]

Analysis by BBC Sport Africa's Isaiah Akinremi in Lagos

The NFF's decision to choose Finidi George is not much of a surprise, although Emmanuel Amuneke was a fan favourite and a leading candidate to replace Jose Peseiro.

The recent friendlies against West African rivals Ghana and Mali were an audition which the new coach passed despite mixed results and George must now meet some high demands.

First up are 2026 World Cup qualifiers which take on even more importance after the Super Eagles missed out on the last edition of the finals in Qatar.

George will be tasked with putting together a team capable of delivering a fourth Nations Cup title, improving on the second place finish in Ivory Coast this year.

As an exciting winger in his playing days, he is expected to bring a new style of play - utilising and effectively managing the talented squad at his disposal as well as nurturing players in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).

George will continue to combine his roles as coach of the national team and defending NPFL champions Enyimba, who sit second in the table with six games remaining.

Meanwhile, the fact the NFF has overlooked Amuneke again will spark debate among fans of the Super Eagles

The 1994 African player of the year masterminded Nigeria's Under-17 World Cup triumph in 2015 with players like Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze, who are now an integral part of the senior squad.

The former Barcelona forward also led Tanzania to qualification for the 2019 Nations Cup.