• Friday, April 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Finidi confident ahead of Super Eagles friendlies with Ghana, Mali

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Super Eagles coach Finidi George is brimming with confidence ahead of the upcoming friendly games against Ghana and Mali, scheduled for Friday, March 22nd and 26th in Marrakech, Morocco,

Expressing his objectives, Finidi emphasized the team’s aim to secure positive results in the matches.

Reflecting on the Super Eagles’ recent success, having finished as runners-up at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations held in Ivory Coast, Finidi stressed the importance of maintaining and surpassing that high ranking in African football.

Acknowledging the seriousness of matches against Ghana, Finidi highlighted the historical intensity and competitiveness between the two teams. Despite the designation as “friendly matches,” Finidi emphasized the significance of these encounters, particularly against a formidable opponent like Ghana.

“We finished in second place at the Africa Cup of Nations and everyone expects us to maintain that high rating and be even better in a short while. Our objective is to get good results in these two matches and stay positive ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.

“They call it friendly matches but there is nothing friendly when you play, especially Ghana. I have been involved in matches against Ghana since the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal. Matches between our countries are serious duels and are always seen as battles by our people. The Black Stars did not perform that well at the recent Africa Cup of Nations and they will be keen to banish that memory.”

Despite missing four players due to injury, Finidi expressed confidence in the team’s ability to represent Nigeria with pride and patriotism. As preparations continue, the Super Eagles aim to deliver strong performances and maintain their winning momentum.

“We will be missing four players who have pulled out due to injury but I have confidence in the team that we have here that they will wear the green-white-green with pride and with patriotic fervour.”

As of Wednesday morning, only Turkey-based defender Bright Osayi-Samuel was being expected in the Adam Park Hotel of the Eagles in Marrakech, with 21 players having settled in.

Ghana will also be led by a renowned former international, Otto Addo, who has just been recalled for a second stint in charge of the Black Stars.

Friday’s match will be the 60th encounter between both countries, since a Jalco Cup match on 20th October 1951 ended 5-0 in favour of Nigeria. Twenty of the previous 59 duels have ended in draws, including their last two encounters (2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches) in March 2022.

Their last friendly match, in London on 11th October 2011, ended scoreless.

As anticipation builds for the upcoming games, Finidi and the Super Eagles are focused on delivering memorable performances and securing positive results against their African counterparts.

Finidi won 62 caps for Nigeria, including featuring at the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cup finals, and won gold, silver and bronze medals from the 1992, 1994, 2000 and 2002 AFCON tournaments. His first AFCON encounter against Ghana was on 23rd January 1992, in a semi-final encounter that the Black Stars won 2-1.