• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Finidi slams Super Eagles performance against South Africa

Finidi-Iheanacho

Super Eagles head coach Finidi George has voiced his dissatisfaction with Nigeria’s performance in their 1-1 draw against South Africa in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo on Friday night.

Seeking their first win of the qualifying campaign, Nigeria managed only a 1-1 draw against the visiting Bafana Bafana.

The much-talked-about clash in Uyo saw both teams share points, leaving Lesotho unexpectedly at the top of Group C in the African qualification series for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

South Africa, AFCON bronze medallists, struck first after 29 minutes when Themba Zwane navigated past the Nigerian defense to score past goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali from close range.

Earlier in the match, Nigeria missed several chances, with Paul Onuachu heading over the bar from a cross by Ademola Lookman in the third minute, and Alex Iwobi shooting high five minutes later when he had a clear opportunity.

Nwabali kept the home crowd engaged with a double save from Zwane and Iqraam Rayners in the 10th minute. Teboho Mokoena hit the crossbar with a sharp free-kick delivery from 20 yards seven minutes later.

Following Zwane’s goal, South Africa dominated the first half and Benjamin Tanimu had to be alert to avoid an own goal as Percy Tau and Zwane troubled the Nigerian defense again.

Nigeria equalised just a minute into the second half when Alex Iwobi set up Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, who turned brilliantly to score past Ronwen Williams.

The Super Eagles controlled the game thereafter, with substitute Samuel Chukwueze hitting the underside of the bar, Lookman missing a late chance, and Chukwueze drawing a full-length save from Williams in added time.

Speaking in a post-match conference as reported by OganlaMedia, Finidi admitted that the Super Eagles were outplayed in the first half but praised his players for their improved performance in the second half, despite his disappointment with the overall result.

“We started sloppily in the first half, but we took over the game immediately and we scored in the second half,” Finidi said.

“We missed chances, but overall, it was not a bad second half for us. The players reacted well, but it was not the result we wanted. We have to get our heads up and work for the next game (Benin Republic). I am not happy with just one point.”

Nigeria’s next match is against the Benin Republic on Monday, June 10, in a reunion with former Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr. Benin has four points from three games, one more than Nigeria.