New Nigeria coach Finidi demands commitment from top stars

New Nigeria coach Finidi George has demanded total commitment from his top players, as the team aims to get their 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign back on track after a faltering start.

Finidi was presented to the media as the country’s new coach to succeed the Portuguese Jose Peseiro, whose contract was not renewed after guiding Nigeria to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in February, in Abuja on Monday.

His immediate tasks are two 2026 World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Benin early next month.

Nigeria are third in their qualifying group with two points from as many games, while South Africa are second on three points.

The three-time African champions welcome South Africa to the southern town of Uyo on June 7, before they travel to Abidjan for another qualifying match against bottom-team Benin three days later.

“Nigeria comes first, that’s what I expect from every player I invite,” he told reporters.

“You have to be playing in your club and you must have the commitment.

“The first targets are to qualify for the World Cup and AFCON (Africa Cup of Nations) and a win over South Africa will set the tone.”

The former Ajax winger maintained he has “a tough skin” to withstand the pressure that comes with leading the team of a country with over 200 million people.

The 53-year-old has signed a year’s contract with an option for an additional year.

His salary was not disclosed, but he said he hopes to do well enough to secure an improved deal.

“The salary is good enough for me, it’s not as much as that of (Jose) Peseiro,” said Finidi, who led Enyimba to a record ninth Nigerian league title last season.

“Money is good but if you add value to what you do, the money will come.

“Then they can come and ask ‘Coach, how much do you want?’.”


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