• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Troost-Ekong hails Finidi’s appointment as Super Eagles coach

EEkong

Nigeria’s national football team vice-captain, William Troost-Ekong, has hailed the appointment of Finidi George as Super Eagles head coach while expressing his admiration for the Ajax star.

The 53-year-old who previously served as assistant to former Super Eagles coach Jose Peseiro, has now been confirmed as the head coach of the Super Eagles.

Reflecting on his 22 months under Finidi, Troost-Ekong, a veteran defender with 71 international caps for Nigeria, described the Rivers-born star as a true legend of the game.

“In African football, and Nigerian football, even here in Greece, whenever ex-Nigerian players are mentioned, Finidi’s name always comes up,” Troost-Ekong said as quoted by Soccernet.

Troost-Ekong, a 30-year-old centre-back born in the Netherlands, initially represented the Dutch national team at the youth level before switching allegiance to Nigeria.

Since his debut for Nigeria in 2015, Troost-Ekong has been a cornerstone of the Super Eagles defence, leading the three-time African champions through numerous tournaments, including the 2016 Olympics, two AFCONs, and the 2018 World Cup and 2023 AFCON where he won the Player of the Tournament.

“Especially growing up in Holland, just outside Amsterdam, for someone who played so much for Ajax and achieved so much there, he’s someone I look up to and feel very connected to,” Troost-Ekong added.

The  PAOK defender also praised Finidi’s humility, despite his impressive achievements, highlighting his recent success after guiding Enyimba to winning the Nigerian Premier Football League in 2023.

“He is always very humble, too humble for what he has achieved. Everyone recognizes the work he did for Enyimba last year when he won the league. So, for him to now get the chance to be the interim head coach [now the full-time head coach], I am very happy to see that. He’s a great guy,” Troost-Ekong remarked.

Despite Nigeria falling short of their AFCON title aspirations, Troost-Ekong’s performance stood out. He was awarded the tournament’s Golden Ball after scoring three crucial goals, including strikes in both the semi-final and final matches.

After undergoing a successful surgery following an injury he sustained during the 2023 AFCON, the former Betis defender is nearing full recovery and should be ready to lead the Super Eagles in their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Rwanda in June.

Finidi’s first task is to qualify the Super Eagles of Nigeria for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

The Super Eagles are third in Group C with only two points from two matches, trailing Rwanda and South Africa.