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2026 WCQ: Finidi Reveals Why Boniface Didn’t Play Against South Africa

2026 WCQ: Finidi Reveals Why Boniface Didn’t Play Against South Africa

Super Eagles head coach, Finidi George has revealed the reason behind his decision not to play Victor Boniface in Friday’s 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying encounter against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa.

Southampton striker, Paul Onuachu was preferred to lead the team’s attack in the absence of Victor Osimhen.

Terem Moffi took Onuachu’s place 10 minutes from time

Boniface was however left on the bench for the entire duration of the encounter despite the Super Eagles struggles in attack.

Finidi revealed the injury sustained by Semi Ajayi late in the game made him change his mind on Boniface’s introduction.

Read Also:2026 WCQ: Broos Hails Bafana Bafana’s Mentality In 1-1 Draw Vs Super Eagles

“Allow us to do our jobs,” Finidi reacted at the post-match press conference.

“We wanted to introduce Boniface and Moffi, but Semi had a knock and we had to take him off and introduce Moffi and Onyedika.

“The fans and media would shout for different players, if they don’t perform well, the shout will be, take him off. Allow us to do our jobs.”

Finidi also said his players were sloppy in the first half of the encounter.

“I feel we should have done a little bit better in the first half”, the former Ajax winger added.

“We should have entered the game a little bit quicker. But that didn’t happen. We’re too sloppy and didn’t come into the game early enough. And we conceded that goal but I feel the players reacted so well in the second half and of course, it wasn’t the the best result that we wanted but yeah, a draw is better than losing.

“We’ll have to dust ourselves, get our heads up and think of how we can win the next match. I’ve said it before, you get one of three results in a match; you either win, draw or lose.

“Today is the day we needed that win and we got a draw. I’m not happy about the point but the performance in the second half was really outstanding”.

Finidi would feel hard done by the absence of the Video Assistant Referee, VAR, in the qualifying stages of the World Cup after his team’s penalty appeal in the 53rd minute was waved away by the referee after Dele Bashiru Faruq was taken to the ground by a Bafana Bafana defender inside the area.

Read Also:2026 WCQ: Super Eagles Drop Points Again After 1-1 Draw With South Africa

Yet again, Samuel Chukwueze’s left footed curling effort crashed against the crossbar, dropping down with suggestions it may have crossed the goal line.

“I’m sure we all saw the AFCON in Cote d’Ivoire where the VAR was properly used”, Finidi recalled.

“Even the Europeans were applauding the AFCON, you know. For me, I don’t know why in (World Cup qualifiers) like this, where everything counts and we couldn’t have a play or incident properly checked to know if a goal is properly scored or not. Chukwueze’s cross which hit the (underneath of the) bar, from where I was standing, I don’t know whether it crossed the line, but if there’s VAR, we would have had the opportunity of having a better view. For me, I’m just a coach and cannot change the rules of FIFA”.

The Super Eagles will now shift attention to Monday’s clash against the Squirrels of Benin Republic at the Felix Houphouet Boigny, Stadium, Abidjan.

By Sab Osuji in Uyo


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COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 45
  • Samuel 1 week ago

    I still believe in this team.Weldone boys

    • Fatlee Okos 1 week ago

      Right on point no argument whatsoever

    • Dennis 1 week ago

      Where’s omo9ja?

    • Williams d conqueror 1 week ago

      This should be the end for the 94′ set of the eagles to handle the national team. Imagine the stupid reason behind not playing the most in-form player in the team. This people should get away with their Mafia mindset of 1994. The nff should make sure non of them near the team again.

  • KELS 1 week ago

    We have no option than to pay attention to our next match. Btw, the match against South Africa wasn’t easy though. Good luck coach!

  • HassanT 1 week ago

    Two things were involved in that game:

    1. The coach was without the services of his main personnel (Osime, Ekong, Aina, etc)

    2. Though related to the above, Onuachu or whatever he’s called has no business in duch a high profile game and in actuality was a huge minus.

    Going forward, Coach Finidi must look deep, plays Boniface, Lookman and Chukwueze in his attacking formation, then the goals would come.

    • Trac P10 1 week ago

      You’re talking about the attackers, what about the middle and the defense?

      • @Trac P10, This is the correct lineup Like I pointed out Tuesday or Wednesday

        Nwabali

        Tanimu
        Awaziem
        Bassey
        Osayi Samuels

        Ndidi
        Bashiru (because he scored, before game I said Onyeka)
        Iwobi (I said Iheanacho but Iwobi Keeps his place)

        Chukwueze
        Boniface
        Lookman

        The Trio is the Trio I selected. Boniface because he is 2 best attacker in SE Today, Chukwueze because he has hit form again towards the end of the season and he is South Africa’s Nightmare right from AFCON 2019

    • Forget about who was absent. Let’s leave all these excuses. The Invited players on parade yesterday are good enough to win SA home or away, they just lacked the required determination. There’s still a great deal of spinelessness in our approach to games. For a while now, (except maybe during the AFCON) the SE don’t play with enough grit.

      Let’s not make excuses for them. Our carefree approach in the FH cost us the match.

      Just think about it for a moment, we conceded first all three matches we’ve played so far. We concede first and rally around to equalize. That shows how reactive we are as a whole. We are never proactive.

  • Akunde 1 week ago

    Fans should allow you do a useless job, leaving -2 Onuachu, controling and passing the ball to opponents for 80mns of the decider match like this? Kai, Finidi!
    I preferred Amunike to you, bc of this tactless coaching. S.A got every ball and knew and did what they tactically planned. We got all balls and wondered and waited for what to do. When can we play well planned games?

  • Edison Echede 1 week ago

    I want to align with your stance. Finidi needs to think out of the box to understand.

  • Collins Id 1 week ago

    I tought boniface was injured, so this idiot have the mind to keep boniface on the bench for no injury reasons, maaaaan this finidi is just complete idiot, thunder go scatter this man, very foolish fool, i just hate him and lose all respect for him, he just dumb headed big cow, foolish fool, was he ever treated like that by the supereagles coachs when he was playing, no wonder he was dumped by bonfere joe for the 1996 dream team, and he even had the mouth to complain, even Alonso have to put boniface in the final second half match against Atalanta becos he knew that liverkusen fans will kill him if he doesnt play boni and lose the match, just imagine this finidi have no respect for the supereagles fan base, he know how much we have craved to see boniface play for eagles, even ex professionals were optimistic that boni will fill the gap of osihmen in this all important game, thunder go scatter finidi and his witchcraft mind set, (ewe and ozuor combine), big foolish man, 1994 afcon final this idiot finidi was a mess, thank God we had okocha and amunike. What can onuachu do that boniface cannot do ×10? Is it hold up play, is it header, is height, is boniface a shot man? Boniface is still taller than osihmen and moffi, this onuachu guy should go and focus in his carea infact he should retire from the eagles its obviouse we dont like him and he is not worth our jersey, he should stop showing up with his juju, The guy brings in vudu to get spots he use same juju for rohr,pesero and now finidi, the guy will blind their eyes to see no other but his urgly headed face, he should quit the eagles we dont like him for nothing, is invitation alone irritates me, if he doesnt quit with his juju one day he will face the violence of naija fans, i promise, and ogun will kill anyone who think otherwise including unuachu family and friends thunder fire una together. football nor be by force, he came in from nowhere after using juju to chase sadiq out of the afcon team, even pesero didnt even confirm that sadiq was injured to tell u how crafty this unuachu can be, he invited this juju ritualist player, the guy came into already complete list and play ahead of moffi and iheanacho with his principalities yet he couldnt score one goal, the juju cannot give him the goals.
    Onuachu is a nigerian i am surpose to support and wish to ecell, but bcos of his craftic influence on the eagles i prefer him injured or even not having any goal for his clubs just bcos whatever progress he make with his clubs always come to hunt us in the eagles, he just go missing. simon nwankwo, imade osarenkhoe, Gift Orban, akor adams, are all better than this NBA crafty player,
    I cant believe this Good for nothing average player who is not even better than super falcons strikers will come and bench a nice,lyon,montpellier, and above all liverkusen top striker, na wa oh for this stupid Finidi monkey george, i bet you southafrica will never invite unuachu if he was a south african na only naija this kind of epilepcy dey worry.

    • Femi 1 week ago

      Guy chill, na person Son, Uncle, Husband and brother you they address like this? Common now, all the names you call have played for this same eagles before now, was it not same moffi that squander one through pass towards the end of the match while trying to dribble the GK? How many goals did ur gift orban score for Lyon this season? Akor a bench warmer for
      Montpellier again? Na wah for you ohhh, yes onuachu shdnt have started the match, but how are we so sure with boniface that have grow nipple gonna make any diff.? Alonso started dropping him after his injury for a reason, we are not even talking of an ACL injury here ooo, see ehh with or without osimhen, boniface, awo or whoever, what would be would be, and if u asked me, we even played better today than when we meet them at AFCON while Peseiro was the coach with our almighty osimhen, Abi u guys have forgotten we won them only via penalty nii?.

  • Mr Hush 1 week ago

    Did I mention that Finidi is daft?

    Why play people out of position?

    Why not play Bassey as a Left back, And Osayi in his preferred right back position. And Tanimu and Ajayi in the centre?

    What’s the point of inviting Awazeim and the home based Left back if you don’t trust them enough to play?

    Why for Pete’s sake would you start an Onuachu over a Moffi and Boniface?!

    And why did he stay on the pitch for close to 80mins when glaringly he wasn’t offering nothing?! Slow, sluggish and sloppy.

    Why push Iheanacho to the left wing?!

    Why for God’s sake did you( Finidi) have to play against yourself? You plainly gavevtgat match away, a draw was only rescued inspite of you.

    For the sake of Nigerians, I hope you get to learn and improve cause what you have exhibited so far is not it!

    • Dr. Drey 1 week ago

      “….Why for Pete’s sake would you start an Onuachu over a Moffi and Boniface?!…”

      “And why did he stay on the pitch for close to 80mins when glaringly he wasn’t offering nothing?! Slow, sluggish and sloppy”
      .
      .
      .
      This 2 questions are the reason why the NFF should better sack Finidi and get a good foreign coach tọ try and salvage this situation.

      Or of what use is a coach whose decision making ability is a big fat ZERO….??!

      For the love of man, who starts an Onuachu when a Moffi and a Boniface are available …….LMAOoo.

      He showed this same terrible decision making ability in the friendlies….I thought it was just accidental. Now he has brought it into competitive situations too.

      This man can actually bench Osimhen for Onuachu ó….LMAOoo

      My brother Hush, are you sure they are not following this finidi guy from home….?! This man needs serious deliverance ó.

      • Mr Hush 1 week ago

        “My brother Hush, are you sure they are not following this finidi guy from home….?!”

        @DrDrey

        I wish I could answer that question. Cause I can’t fathom Findi’s team sheet yesterday. Players playing out of position. Underwhelming tactics. Forced substitutions.
        To think Boniface wasn’t injured made the decision to start with Onuachu even more ridiculous.

        Even at that, he played Iheanacho from the wings, not an inverted winger, strictly from the wings,on the line ,which is crazy. Kelechi is not pacey, even more crazy is the fact that, he had to play around even slower players in Onuachu and Tanimu. That’s abnormal. That simply killed the right wing atleast till Chukwueze( who’s a bit electric) came in.

        I don’t get Finidi’s logic. I just don’t.

  • SeanT 1 week ago

    No worry Mr Finidi. It’s when you fail to win your next match that you will understand that your job as the SE COACH is finished.

    *You started a sluggish Onuachu instead of Boniface. Like seriously.
    *Osayi used out of position,
    *Lookman has said it overtime that he’s not a winger una no dey listen.
    *You fielded players reporting to camp 2 days b4 a crucial WC qualification match. Only Lookman can be excused for this reckless move because he still play on Sunday and local flight were grounded not until Tuesday or Wednesday.
    *You could not invite strong center backs. Igoh, Gabriel Osho & Torunarigha are there yet you couldn’t invite any of them.
    *Semi Ajayi has always been sluggish, likewise Ekong but because they play 3 man defense, that area was covered with the help of ever solid Bassey eventhough his passes are sometimes awful.
    * Supposed captain of the team fixing a ceremonial match within time frame of WC qualifiers shows that he’s irresponsible and only think of himself
    * Ndidi & Ihaenacho left the camp to honor such rubbish yet the Coach embrace & tolerate them. Very disrespectful & once again show that Finidi is not in control.
    * Why take home based players to the camp since you’re not confident in their abilities whereas we have foreign based players that are tested but you refused to extend invitation to them.
    * You refused to make early changes even when you notice Ihaenacho, Onuachu are minus 2.
    * The Tanimur whatever is not to be blamed but praised for saving what could have been SA 2nd goal. He didn’t do bad either but his performance was not good enough. We’ve better players but the Coach believe he knows it all.

    * CAF should be ashamed of themselves and cover their faces because i can’t seem to understand why a WC Qualifier is played without the use of VAR. That’s pathetic and unacceptable. That foul on Fisayo Bashiru should be a PK & the defender penalized.

    • Femi 1 week ago

      @ Sean T Gbayi, you criticized with logic and points not most of guys here criticizing for the sake of we said it, Taminu guy played good game, he saved us and bomb forward as he shd, we all failed to criticized nwabalis ball distribution, only one or two of his numerous ball met its target, ball distribution is one of major attributes in todays Goal Keeping, the goal we conceded was completely avoidable if bassey wasn’t ball watching, we all quick to blame the coach like Peseiro didn’t draw Zimbabwe already, SA is and would be our biggest opponent in the group and I said it boldly that this team will qualify.

      • You still believe we will qualify? That odds on that is seriously stacking upwards..

        We must show doggedness and zeal before our efforts will yield positivity.

      • Edoman 1 week ago

        @Femi, can you really bet that this stupid guy who called himself a national coach will qualify Nigeria for the World-cup? Finidi have no idea of what he is doing. Our former Oga will take Nigeria to the slaughterhouse on Monday. How dare he sit out Boniface for Ounachu who has since passed his prime and got relegated to playing in Turkey. Ounachu who was a complete failure in the Premier League and sent parking to run to play in the Middle East. If you look at the situation deeply, l am thinking that money have changed hand under the table with this coach. Is Finidi not home-based coach. Most home-based coach tends to take bribe. I am sure that after the match on Monday, he will be investigated when we loose to Benin Republic.

  • SeanT 1 week ago

    @Dr.Drey, i don’t think any Coach will be willing to take the SE job as it’s because the team is almost destined to be bundled out of the WC once again. They had the opportunity to hire a competent coach for over 3 months yet they kept deceiving themselves until it is less than a month to the qualifiers still yet go ahead to hire a mediocre.

    Eventhough i didn’t support Peseiro to continue because it’s evidence the guy himself his not technically sound because he has the opportunity of winning that AFCON but because of his incompetence we lost the match as he decided to stick to injured players and overused all his starting 11 without rest.

    Where is the CAF 2nd place price ? Why are NFF always broke and never have finance to hire a tested & sound foreign Coach ? Finidi is not to take the blame alone but along with the thieves at the NFF & politician Sport Minister.

    There are some available foreign Coaches they should have taken advantage to hire but no they won’t because they can’t influence his decision or imposed local and some useless so called foreign players on.

    I repeat no reasonable Coach will take this SE job not even now. Because it’s a big risk and one that can dent their CV.

    Let NFF finish the madness they started and dance to the music they’re playing

    • Olujimi Morgan 1 week ago

      @Sean why drag the Sports Minister into the selection of Finidi? It was reported he pushed for a different person.
      And why this penchant for a foreign coach? In 1990 a foreigner took over when we still had a chance and lost in Cameroun, in 1994 another got best performance to date – 2nd round elimination, in 1998 a different foreigner, lost badly in 2nd round, in 2002 a Nigerian didn’t get us out of 1st round although he formed a promising team commended by Havelange then FIFA President as having a front 5 as good as any team before Kanu dropped out injured, 2006 no qualification, 2010 a 1st round elimination, 2014 a Nigerian took us to 2nd round and lost to a strong opponent after our midfield suffered an important injury. In more recent times we botched up 2022 qualification with officials meddling and forcing change in the prepared lineup. In 2018 we couldn’t get out of a tough group and actually performed with honour; but the foreigner went backwards after the WC.
      We are stuck with Finidi and can still qualify. The Minister, NFF and others must reach out to him so he plays a better team with more assured players. He has Saturday and Sunday to try out other formations such as a false 9 if there is no effective pointman. Ndidi, Iwobi and Bashiru are not a good shield. We need a ball winner, as Ndidi’s game has changed.
      Coach should plan on player’s game, ignore player’s name.

  • You people Winding me?. Lol something I was telling you people now you are ahing and Humming.. but 4 weeks after these qualifiers, most fail with our own fans will go back to factory settings and start thier Patriotic Sabotting. For

    for 1 I mentioned after AFCON that we don’t need a coach that will continue what Peseiro did in AFCON interms of tactics we needed someone that will come and play to these boys strength and that is attacking and second half they showed some grit.

    2. If Finidi knew he was going to play this kind of tactic how can he select a Onuachu over a fit Awoniyi when he know’s Onuachu have no speed, is Finidi awake when these boys are training atol because he has had 2 years to see them train.

    3. I made a Line up last week Hoping Finidi will see it and it included a front three of Chukwueze Boniface and Lookman, Reason being Chukwueze is SA nightmare and he know’s how to play them I said this right fro AFCON Findi stil did not learn and Chuks is in better form now.

    4. I put Boniface because still the 2nd best attacker in Super Eagles today after Osimhen followed by Lookman.. I also mentioned if Ekong is fit Ekong must play if Awoniyi is fit and Osimhen is injured Awoniyi must play.

    Finito i hope you know what you are doing Do Not try and Bench Victor Boniface again

    next game your front three must be: Chukwueze Boniface Lookman

    Midfield must be: Ndidi, Iwobi, Onyeka but Bashiru Scored so I think he earns a spot there too.

    But Finidi must find away to start these players Next game together,and go all out and Suffocate @MONKEY POST DEM GENERAL ROHR! LOLZ..

    P.S as for Onuachu he has done better than he did in a Super Eagles Shirt in previous but still nt up to standard of leading our attack

    Iheanacho must not disrespect Finidi the way he did On Camera yesterday, it is very rude and shows what we were saying about How these boys respect Foreign coaches more I have never seen the shameful act I saw Iheanacho do today . before. even though Finidi is clueless he is still the coach

    Findi don’t play with Super Eagles

    Finidi

  • Stan 1 week ago

    Life no Ballance.what ever you do people must complain.Dr drey’s father rohr lost to south Africa in uyo.lost to central Africa republic.lost to madagascar.pesciro started this journey by playing draw at home with lesotto drew away with Zimbabwe.is too early to judge Finidi he played his first official match without his key players aina.zaidu.moses.ekong.osimehn.omeruo were all missing due to injuries onyeka and Boniface are not in a good shape now.you guys should understand football I played football and I know how difficult it is.finidi’s tactics was fantastic yesterday and the team played very well but the luck was not on their side.starting onuachu against south Africa was not bad idea.rohr started onuachu against Benin republic away which onuachu scored the only goal we needed to beat Benin republic he scored again against Benin republic in return leg.i still believe in Finidi despite the result.

  • South Africa would feel they’re in control of the group. Win all their rest home matches (which as Dr.Drey stated is technically 6 out of the remaining 7 matches) and they’re home and dry.

    We need to win all our remaining matches and beat SA at home. Osimhen needs to start making himself available. We need all our best legs, Aina, Ekong, Boni, Lookman, Awoniyi, Simon. No more experiments, Finidi.

    I’m cautiously confident we will beat Benin in Tuesday cos what I saw in the second half. But we were defensively porous, which was a sharp difference with Paseiro. Finidi plays rampant attack but makes his midfield vulnerable with pockets of space here and there. Paseiro tries to find a balance. His philosophy is don’t concede even if you don’t score. I now see why Nwabali “shone brightly” at the Afcon with the super glue protection.

    All of these is down to Gusau and his wicked goons. Very bad administrators. Finidi, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Win all your remaining matches, including away to South Africa. I don’t believe any team in our group can beat us, home or away. We just needs to start winning now. Not just draws.

  • SeanT 1 week ago

    @Stan please i beg you never include Sanusi as a regular or important player in the SE again. As a matter of fact if I’ve the power to, i will stop any further invitation to the guy. With that awful performance he had at AFCON. NO way he’s getting into my team ever. If he likes, let him leave Porto and go to Barcelona. He’s never getting into my team.

    He’s the number 1 culprit why the Eagles struggle with a opponent at AFCON. 95% of his passes were straight opponent passes, the few ones directed to his teammates are either short passes that can give injuries to players trying to get to it or overkick passes. His marking were very poor. Even when he has chances to shoot at goal, one will begin to wonder if he has a boil on his toes & feet. He has like 3 to 4 chances to score at that same AFCON but what did he do, rubbish.

    As far as am concerned we don’t have a left back. Bruno Onyemachi who was very lively at the Qualifier when Sanusi was injured was not encouraged to build on on his impressive debut. He played 3 matches consecutively and was delightful to watch. He’s a kind of player that send in perfectly timed crosses into opponent box, mark and pass well but our blind Coaches has choose to axe him from the team

    Bassey is another good option at the left back but because SE coaches are not ready to give good center backs opportunity to proof themselves, then we’re stucked with the ones we’ve today. So Bassey must to play at center back

    • Mercy 1 week ago

      A certain player called Wendell, the present left choice back of Brazil national team is always being benched in porto by Zaidu Sanusi when he is fit. Please show some respect for the man!!!

  • Stan 1 week ago

    Eguavon formation was 4_4_2 and most of you were here complaining.pesciro came in and continue with same formation they said the the formation was too bad he went to afcon and changed the formation they said pesciro is the worst coach on earth sack him and give us a local coach.he is not playing attacking football.he was lucky to made it to the final.now they have started telling nff to sack Finidi after one match in charge just because he is a black man.

  • Stan 1 week ago

    @Dr drey what have you archived in your life as a PhD holder? have you not been doing mistakes in your work or buissness? Is Finidi not a human being? Are you perfect in everything you do? You need to grow up boy mind your self and leave Finidi alone.stop coming here to abuse and challenge people you know nothing about football.

  • Dr. Drey 1 week ago

    Hahahahaha….asking me what i’ve achieved in my life as a phD holder is like asking the president of a country what he has achieved in his life……LMAOooo. What a question…!!!

    Shebi you can buy a PhD gown in Ariaria market….? Why aren’t you also a phD holder yet…?

    Pls google TWAS and KNAW to know a little about what I’ve achieved in my life ehn. The last thing I will do is to pour out my curriculum vitae to and underserving simpleton.

    I agree, I know nothing about football. But at least I know that Onuachu should not be starting a SE match in a qualifier when we have Boniface and Moffi…..LMAOoo

    I can see you want some attention…..almost everybody here is challenging Finidi and his decision making, but it is Dr.Drey you single out to throw jibes at……dont worry I will give you the attention you are seeking for.

  • Omoruyi 1 week ago

    Sorry to say this…now I can see why foreign coach is still preferred …why on earth would the coach keep boniface on the bench for that long? It should have been lookman boniface and chukwueze upfront….bashiru should have played the more attacking and distributive midfielder….ndidi is out of it….our keeper was sloppy also…I don’t see this team qualifying o…rohr knows us better…so expect Benin to do more damage….

  • Nigeria vs. South Africa 1:1 – Retrospective Review

    Well, well, well; it finally happened! Head Coach Finidi George oversaw his first competitive assignment as Super Eagles Indigenous Gaffer in a crucial and quite pulsating World Cup qualifier against South Africa in Uyo on 7 June. And was it worth the wait?

    I guess it depends on who you speak to. To me, certain aspects of Nigeria’s performance work a treat. I was very impressed in the execution of their routines and how adventurous, fluid and expansive they were. It might not have been the result I wanted but their overall application based on the instructions issued by Finidi left me satisfied overall.

    In the first 15 minutes of the first half, I will award the Super Eagles 7/10 for their performance. This passage of play saw South Africa sit deep to defend whilst using that opportunity to figure out the nature of threat the Super Eagles offered.

    The Super Eagles line up was experimental in truth but I don’t think the players put much foot wrong.

    This period was characterised by: long balls from defence to attack; interesting interplay of clever passes; intelligently executed freekick; Nigeria dictating play and being on the front foot; and overall composed play.

    Nwabili was excellent as a Keeper-Sweeper. With Nigeria’s attacking orientation leaving only 2 centre-backs behind, Nwabili slotted in-between Ajayi and Bassey (as a third defender) severally to help play it out from the back. Nwabili launched a route one long ball to Onuachu that had to be defended. The goalkeeper was involved in an excellent passage of play with Ajayi, whose long ball located Onuachu in midfield who found Bashiru who was fouled before he could thread a delicious through ball to Iheanacho.

    I was pleased to see the Super Eagles string passes together extensively, at times exchanging the ball 7 or 10 times with attacking intent before being eventually dispossessed. In one instance, Ndidi, Iwobi, Ajayi, Bashiru, Iheanacho and Lookman exchanged the ball 10 times only for Lookman to blast high with a frustrated Iwobi running into the opposition box 18 to continue the routine. It was a fabulous passage of play ruined by Lookman’s selfishness.

    Other observations for this first 15 minutes include: Onuachu dropped deep severally to receive the ball to good effect; Ndidi’s long ball from deep were productive and glorious as one found Lookman in acres of space; Tanimu was solid and totally focused and committed in defence as he blocked a dangerous cross into the 18 yard box; Nigeria looked vulnerable to counter attacks; Iheanacho lost possession severally; Bassey was suspect in 1v1 duels as a South African got the best of him to deliver a dangerous cross that led to a shot that Nwabili expertly palmed; Ajayi was physically effective; Nigeria’s attacking intents were obvious and well executed; and South Africa found joy going long.

    But, all the all, it was competent and compact offensive play by Nigeria in the first 15 minutes which left gaps in defence that South Africa would eventually exploit.

    In the next 15 minutes (15 – 30 minutes) I will award the Super Eagles 6/10 simply on the account of the goal they conceded in 28 minutes.

    A highlight of this period of play was right-back Tanimu coming to his own with commendable success. He overlapped to deliver a beautiful inswinger; he won a throwing and was then involved in a fabulous sequence of passes with Ndidi whose cross had to be defended.

    The South Africans now became more offensive which Nigeria initially repelled effectively with decent shape. But, when it comes to shape, it was difficult to decipher Nigeria’s tactical arrangement under Finidi. They were amorphous which might be a good or bad thing depending on your orientation as a fan. How far Finidi will go with this nebulous, indistinct but fluid, expansive and attack oriented approach is anybody’s guess – I just find it fascinating and interesting to watch.

    Our defensive midfield infrastructure was always suspect as it was manned by just Ndidi who has the freedom to roam, often leaving that area unmanned which led to a shot earlier and then contributed to South Africa’s opener: Zwane would dart past 2 centre back before riffling past Nwabili to put South Africa 1:0 in front following a through pass from Nigeria’s unmanned defensive midfield.

    Other highlight of this period include: Onuachu’s lack of pace led to missed opportunities from several long balls from Nwabili and others; clever and extensive interplay of passes; amorphous team shape on and off the ball; Ajayi’s continued admirable physicality and Tanimu’s hard work all round.

    In all the drive and determination shown by most of the players kept me engaged and invested in their shapeless but interesting approach. However, defensive midfield frailties due to the freedom of Ndidi to roam came home to roost.

    In the last 15 minutes (30 – 45 minutes) I will award the Super Eagles 6/10 in their application.

    The highlight of this period was Nwabili being very sharp and timely to run out block a goal bound shot at the edge of the 18 yard box before an alert and astute Tanimu clearing the rebound off for a corner kick: a quite effective defensive manoeuvre among the 2 players to manage the danger in Finidi’s offensive, shapeless and expansive approach.

    The Super Eagles progressed the ball up-pitch with direction and purpose. Bashiru was livelier in midfield in dropping deep, driving forward and delivering neat passes. Intelligent triangular passing sequence between Iwobi, Ndidi and Iheanacho succeeded in opening up a dangerous hole inside S/Africa’s box 18 but Ndidi’s final through pass failed to locate Iwobi who would have been through on goal.

    Again, Nigeria dictated the tempo in this period but Iwobi’s non-existent dribbling abilities curtailed their midfield ambitions.

    All in all I was pleased. Finally Nigeria are back playing on the front foot with cunning and clever build up play with passing routines that were as compelling as they were incisive. The freedom-to-roam philosophy for the midfield and centre forward created the gaps that South Africa exploited. Onuachu has no business in the Super Eagles under this shapeless amorphous philosophy as he is slow to latch on to long balls and not fluid enough to move around with menace like Osihmen, Awoniyi or even an aging Ahmed Musa would. He did have a header on target following Lookman’s cross in 41 minutes but this approach by Finidi requires an all-action ubiquitous, marauding centre forward which Onuachu is not.

    Update on second half to come……

  • Bomboy 1 week ago

    Finid is not only poor tactically, he is also an arrogant person.

    He is going to turn out to be the worst coach we have ever had.

    If he proves me wrong, I will happily come back here to apologize and celebrate him.

    He is unteachable, unrepentant (even in the face of failure), and egoistic. When you add these negative qualities to his tactical illiteracy, what you get is disaster.

    The NFF deserves him.

  • ABDULRAZAK 1 week ago

    IF YOU HAVE CARDIOVASCULAR PROBLEMS, DO NOT WATCH SUPER EAGLES MATCHES, PLEASE. NA ADVICE O!

  • Second Half

    In the first 15 minutes of the second half(45 – 60 minutes) I will award the Super Eagles 8/10 in how they did coach Finidi proud in coming out like a house on fire to score the equaliser in just the 1st minute of the half.

    Iwobi would combined masterfully with Ndidi and Bassey in orchestrating eloquent passes before he located Onuachu who wonderfully timed his movement, laced with sturdy hold-up play to receive the pass and feed it back to Iwobi to send Dele-Bashiru on his way towards his swivel and stunning strike for Nigeria’s equaliser. It was Finidi’s philosophy finally finding home, and the coach has to be applauded for that methodical build up play which Bashiru helped to collect on its investments.

    Despite zero dribbling abilities, Iwobi was proving to be a livewire in midfield with intelligent movements off the ball and urgency with it; he was definitely making his presence felt, more. The whole team was playing with composure and assurance. They were expansive and looked quite cohesive. Paul Onuachu (often an object of criticisms) was more involved, winning fouls and proving passing outlets. In truth, it’s hard to criticise any of the players in this period as Dele Bashiru was ruthlessly taken out by a rash tackle around S/African 18 yard box following another brilliant Super Eagles passing sequence from the back which was crowned with Lookman’s through ball to Bashiru.

    The Super Eagles looked “comfortable” under their skins in this shapeless approach: goalkeeper playing as centre back; full backs as wingbacks; centre forward in attacking midfield; attack midfielder as centre forward (who scored the goal); defensive midfield pull out crosses. It’s a mess; the players are all over the place. But it is beautiful mess as it conjured the imaged of how comfortable, expressive and expansive in their play some of us fans had been yearning from the Super Eagles. Again, will this approach stand the test of time? I don’t know.

    Super Eagles’ expansiveness continued to be a bane as South Africa gained in-roads from Tanimu’s wing and from the defensive midfield arena but Nigeria stood strong.

    In the second 15 minutes (60 – 75 minutes) I will award the Super Eagles 7/10 for a truly thrilling and engrossing passage of play.

    Here, the Super Eagles tried to shore up the defensive midfield with a double pivot of Ndidi and Iwobi which only created space higher up that South Africa exploited to great effect (it’s like Finidi struggles to really craft a compelling midfield that balances defence and attack effectively). Ndidi exhibited a spark of great chemistry with Iwobi, often locating him with neat passes after shrugging off his markers. Yusuf was busy and effective after coming off to repel a counter attack with a great tackle.

    Bassey was solid here in last ditch defending; Onuachu came to the defence to collect the ball; Chukwueze was very lively, darting into space to pick out Yusuf with a glorious ball inside the 18 yard box; Another cross from Chukwueze almost locate Onuachu (in fact Chukwueze was in the mood!); the Super Eagles at times assumed a 5-4-1 when defending (giving a brief echo of the days of Peseiro); and Nwabili always looked comfortable as an all-round modern day Keeper-sweeper.

    In this time, again following an extensive period on the ball across the pitch with fluid passing routines and movements, Osayi-Samuel had a tame shot on goal from close range with assist from Onuachu and initial cross from Lookman. Immediately after, Nwabili again run out to pull off a fine save with the defence wide open. The gloves were truly off from both sides now as Lookman instantly dribbled to create a chance which Iwobi fluffed, only for Percy Tau also fluff his lines, 1 on 1 with Nwabili and then, Nigeria were attacking again! End to end stuff here.

    Overall, I liked it that both sides went for the jugular in this period – perhaps the most action-soaked as it ended with Yusuf and Chukwueze executing a 1-2 passing routine that tore open the S/African defence only for Chukwueze’s shot to smash the crossbar!

    In the last 15 minutes (75 – 90 minutes + extra time) I will award the Super Eagles 7/10.

    The players on both sides were getting tired at this stage but Chukwueze was still lively, finding Lookman with a neat pass before the Atalanta man crashed his shot in a body of players. Nigeria still looked open and vulnerable when defending with gaps and holes all over the place that South Africa failed to exploit. But, on the ball, the Super Eagles looked assured, purposeful and composed.

    I like the various 1-2 manoeuvres of the Super Eagles in this match with one resulting in a shot just wide from Lookman in 86 minutes. A glorious long ball to Lookman in 91 minutes led to his riveting shot at goal which the South African goalkeeper had to punch away. Another through ball to Moffi led to a 1 v 1 with the goalkeeper. Nigeria’s passes were effectively executed on the night. There was still time for S/Africa to penetrate Nigeria’s porous defence for Nwabili to the rescue with another timely interception in 93 minutes. The game remained end-to-end action until the end!

    In summary, I think the Super Eagles lacked organisation. They looked very disjointed with a breezy, and buoyant brand of football and an approach that looks more suited to a friendly match. But, if this is how Finidi wants to play, then he needs to find a way of making this expansive approach a winning strategy against formidable opponents. I enjoyed the football to no end but we always looked suspect at the back. Should Finidi find a way to produce results with this approach, he will be a KING!

    • Tristan 1 week ago

      Anyone reading your comments would think Nigeria defeated South Africa 5-0. There is little critical analysis in your comments mostly descriptive analysis. If that match is a 7/10 performance by the SE, then what is a 5/10 performance?

    • Femi 1 week ago

      Welldone @deo bcos I’ve been wondering if Nigeria played another match that I didn’t watch yesterday because the comment I’ve been reading is totally diff. From my observation of the match that I watched.

      Yes we all want the win and 3points but common the guys didn’t play that bad, SA didn’t outplayed us in anyway, they have there chances so as the SE, and I can say categorically that we played better than against them at the AFCON that we won via penalty.

      Paul Onuachu that everybody trying to roast also did his best, won us numerous free kick at dangerous area that milkman and kelechi wasted, we need criticized with logic and not hatred, this SE will qualify for the WC.

      • Kenneth 1 week ago

        You should know by now this group is filled with some sentimental morons. Wass it not Onuachu that created the equalizer. Abeg finito continue biko, when paseiro played 2 draws against minnow teams did heavens fall. Imagine if lookman had not played in this match, imagine the comments that would have bombarded this platform, and yet he played selfish. I saw when Boniface took off his vest to come in and next he put it back on. Hope those saying he was a fool can see why. How was onuachu sluggish, player that wasn’t fed, won us free kicks, almost all the yellow cards received by SA players was through him being marked closely.

    • Tristan,

      I honestly felt the brand of football on the night was fluid, vibrant and expansive.

      Credible goals scoring opportunities were created.

      But this open philosophy opens up spaces at the back – Nigeria will concede goals under this. But if we can out-score opponents then happy days.

      My review reveals that thoroughly enjoyed the football. But, the fact that enjoyed it does not make it a winning strategy.

      If Finidi can make it a winning strategy, HE WILL BE KING.

      • @Deo Good analysis from you.

        But I have this point which I would like you to consider.

        1. Findi was supposed to be a continuity project. I am sure you understand what I mean by that. We have s team that got to the final of afcon some months ago. Remember that.

        2. What will determine the success of a coach and the team in these types of matches are the quality of invitation he extended to players. I would like you comment on this. Terrible invitation. Especially in the central defence. Semi for goodness sake was not fit and he knew that. You saw the goal of the SA. It was an embarrassment!!! Semi finally told him he wanted to be pulled out. Why give an unfit player and invitation for goodness sake. Please comment on this.

        2. Finidi also demonstrated his foolishness with his plan to use Bassey and an unfit semi in central defence. Deo, I stand to be corrected, Bassey has never really done very well in a two man central defence for us. Please check the records. And to think that finidi was supposed to be a continuity project. Bad decision from him even before the game. Bassey and semi and ekong excelled in a three man defence. We beat Ghana in a friendly with a three man defence. What change that even when you have ekong injured and semi not fit!!!

        3. What do you think about his decision to invite only 6 central defenders for two very important matches of this magnitude? Now semi is injured according to report. He is left with 5 central defenders. Us finidi wise?

        4. Deo what do you think about his decision not to extend invitation to Gabriel Osho. He called him for the friendlies. Or do you want to argue he wanted to stick with the people he knows already? Semi played in the EPL 2 and is unfit. Osho played in the EPL 1 and did fairly well. I believe he should have at least given him an invitation since e he got one before. I am not even making s case for Igor ogbu because the other coaches and nff have foolishly left this guy out.

        5. Deo I believe you will never support the use of Osayi on the left. Even on the right Osayi struggled at afcon. What was Mr Finidi plans before he gave out invitation. Zero sense from him

        6. For goodness sake who is tanimu? Where is he playing. I think finidi should know better. Super eagles is a big brand already. You don’t just call any player from one nonesense Tanzanian league into the team. Brazil Argentina Italy etc will never do that. For God’s sake we are not Benin or Togo. How do you know if tanimu is fit or not. He even pushed to the right full back. He struggled.

        7. Deo, findi is supposed to be a continuity project but how can you explain using onuachu over Boniface? Bad decision again. His boss pesero did not try it. You only onuachu to kill games in the super eagles.

        8. While I acknowledge the fluidity in the team’s play and the attacking intents in the second half because of 433 formation, this coach should have figured it out that it will expose our unfit central defence. A three man defence would have helped us more. The goal we conceded was a big embarrassment.

        The truth is that finidi needs help in selecting players and making the right substitutions. You just rated the team based on how fluid they played but you did not rate the coach on his many bad decisions.

        What makes a good coach is how he is able to use available resources at his disposal per time to achieve an objective. This is why I love what pesero did at afcon. This is the reason am ever a fan of Mourinho over guardiola.

        If nff is wise they need to help him in this regard.

        Our central defence will always let us down. Ekong and semi and omerou are getting older. A good coach should be thinking about this. We can’t play a two man central defence with these present defenders in the team. If we can get adarbioyo and Igor ogbu and tourinaya and Osho into this team it will be great for us.

        Adarbioyo to me has been one of the reasons why Bassey excelled in a two man defence at fullam. He struggled at Ajax in the central defence. But when it is three man you will see the beast in him. We saw that at afcon.

        This south African team are not super. They are beatable in the second leg especially if finidi learn to do the right thing before then.

        When ekong is back, Oshimen, Boniface starts, onyeka is fit making ndidi to play more upfront. We should also not look away from the fact that ndidi is not really going to function very well in the defensive modified position as he used to do. Last season showed it. Finidi, though he is trying to bring an attacking philosophy, but is not a wise coach so far. He needs help in handling these situations I mentioned above.

        Let hang it here before Dr. Drey accused me of writing epistle. Laugh.

  • Ndubest 1 week ago

    Thanks @Deo i didn’t watch the match i chose not to cos of the tension i was feeling but reading your incisive comment has given me an idea how it went. Though south Africa has many home matches but no guarantee they will win all starting from their next match against Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe may just frustrate south africa next week. I will have an idea where we are going in our next match against benin. If we win and we should then we stand a very good chance of topping the group. South Africa cannot win us at home. Let us criticize when necessary and applaud the team if we see anything positive. We missed some key players but hopefully they will be back in the next round of matches. Finidi may just surprise us.

  • shy una dey wind me?, This is something I was telling you people now you are ahing and Humming.. but 4 weeks after these qualifiers, most fail with our own fans will go back to factory settings and start their Blinded Patriotism which is actually knowingly or unknowingly Sabotaging our Super Eagles.

    I mentioned after AFCON that we don’t need a coach that will continue what Peseiro did in AFCON in-terms of tactics we needed someone that will come and play to these boys strength and that is attacking and second half they showed some grit. But if Finidi always knew yesterdays tactics then Why leave Awoniyi out for Onuachu?.. That is absurd. Onuachu over a fit Awoniyi? when he know’s Onuachu have no speed. IF EKONG IS FIT HE MUST PLAY!

    I made a Line up last week Hoping Finidi will see it and it included a front three of Chukwueze Boniface and Lookman, Reason being Chukwueze is SA nightmare and he know’s how to play them I said this right fro AFCON Findi stil did not learn and Chuks is in better form now.

    Everybody knows, Boniface is still the 2nd best attacker in Super Eagles today after Osimhen followed by Lookman.. for goodness sake if Ekong is fit Ekong must play if Awoniyi is fit and Osimhen is injured Awoniyi must play.

    Luke Shaw of England hope he will be fit in the group Stages of Euro’s a player who has not played for Man U since Feb, this is the same situation we faced when we didn’t take Awoniyi to AFCON, before the Quarter finals Awoniyi became fit for Nottinham Forest and scored 2 goals same period as our Quarters and we were struggling for goals that same period after Quarters. Now Finidi decided to make the same mistake as AFCON and Condemn us with Onuachu and also not Having AFCON MVP EKONG. I mean yesterdays tactics against SA is what Awoniyi Eats he would have really thrived on it with his pace and similar hustle to Osimhen. I really don’t know what is wrong with these coaches and some fans every day everything I say comes to past however our coaches and some people in this CSN forum are just so stubborn

    next game your front three must be: Chukwueze Boniface Lookman

    Midfield must be: Ndidi, Iwobi, Onyeka but Bashiru Scored so I think he earns a spot there too.

    But Finidi must find away to start these players Next game together, and go all out and Suffocate them (Benin Republic)

    Iheanacho must not disrespect Finidi the way he did On Camera yesterday, it is very rude and shows what we were saying about How these boys respect Foreign coaches more I have never seen the shameful act I saw Iheanacho do today . before. even though Finidi is clueless he is still the coach.

    Findi don’t play with Super Eagles

    Finidi

  • Edoman 1 week ago

    Finidi hasn’t got it. No one can give that which he has not got. The moment they employed him, A lot of seasonal individuals imputed that Nigeria will not qualify for the World cup under what, our great guy like Dr drey and other brilliant folks, came out with their God given intellects to argue forcefully the reasons why Finidi George was a wrong person for the job. If you are still hoping that your darling super eagle will make it to the World cup, you are not a alone, but you are hoping against hope. It will not happen. You don’t have to visit the oracle.

    • Respect is reciprocal 1 week ago

      After watching the game a second time. I want to accept that sometimes our players are overhyped. Nigerian players are skillful but the SA players are more intelligent than our players. Coaching wise Hugo is far better than Finidi. It’s a pity that a team we use to dominate before now see us as a minnow to them. That is the investment their FA made to the league in South Africa. You can have serial failure as the head of Technical Department in person of Equaveron and expect something great to happen. A tine will come when all football loving fans will march to National assembly carrying placard to demonstrate the way football is being handled here before things begin to change.
      Our players are just too heavy which showed the team doesn’t have a nutritionist to monitor the weight of our players. So many things are upside down .

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