Nigeria icon, Champions League-winner Finidi George added to national team staff

Former Ajax and Ipswich town star Finidi George has been appointed as part of Nigeria's coaching staff as the country begins the process of rebuilding the national teams following the Super Eagles' failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

Finidi, coach of two-time CAF Champions League winners Enyimba, will serve as second assistant coach. Appointed as first assistant is Salisu Yusuf, who was part of the coaching staff and held the same position under Gernot Rohr and more recently Augustin Eguavoen.

Yusuf will also serve as the coach of the Super Eagles B team as well as the under-23 Olympic team. Both men will work under a yet to be appointed foreign coach, according to a statement by the NFF

"A new Head Coach for the Super Eagles will be announced and officially unveiled once the processes for his engagement and contract-signing are concluded," Ademola Olajire, NFF Director of Communications, said.

He added: "The NFF Executive Committee has also approved the recommendation of the Technical & Development Sub-Committee for the new Head Coach to work with Coach Salisu Yusuf (whenever he is available from Super Eagles B/U23 Team duties) as his first assistant."

Finidi, a 1995 UEFA Champions League winner with Ajax, previously put himself forward to coach the country's cadet teams but was passed over for the position twice.

Despite that, the 50-year-old, who retired from playing in 2004 after a 15-year career, which included winning the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations in addition to three league titles with Dutch giants Ajax, was determined not to give up although he told ESPN upon taking then Enyimba job year he would stay patient.

"No, at the moment, I'm not thinking about that," he said at the time. "That was back then, I applied for the job and I didn't get it. So, no regrets whatsoever. I was very disappointed but I understand the Nigerian system. My focus now is to see how I can do my best here in Enyimba and see how we can get back to the top.

"For now, I will just have to be patient, continue to improve myself, be professional and hope that my work speaks for me and then who knows, I may even get a chance with the Super Eagles, we shall see."

That patience has now been rewarded, with Finidi getting a chance to bring his coaching chops to the Super Eagles, helped, of course by his work at Enyimba, although the team's form in recent weeks has been dire after they made a blistering start to the season.

George is a member of the famed Super Eagles class of 1994 alongside stars such as Augustin Okocha, Sunday Oliseh, Daniel Amokachi and Emmanuel Amunike. He played two World Cups, in 1994 and 1998, and won the Africa Cup of Nations with the Super Eagles, earning 60 caps across four Nations Cup tournaments between 1992 and 2002.

Making a return to the coaching staff is goalkeeper trainer Ike Shorunmu, who has served in that capacity under Berti Vogts and Stephen Keshi. Shorunmu is also part of that Class of '94.

All the newly appointed coaches will be subordinate to a foreign coach, who is expected to be named in the next month, according to NFF President Amaju Pinnick.

"One thing I can guarantee you is that we are getting a foreign coach within the next seven to 10 days," Pinnick said, making it clear he only trusts foreign coaches to do the job of managing the senior men's national team.

"The reason why I have always advocated for a foreign coach, is because they come in with a different mindset. They cannot be swayed by sentiments. All they want is success.

"It is not because I do not believe in our coaches, until they develop that mindset of an orchestrated design to succeed. They should develop that. We have good coaches, but are they good enough for now?"

Prior to the Africa Cup of Nations, the NFF had announced that Portuguese Jose Peseiro would take charge for the World Cup qualifiers. That arrangement fell through, but Pinnick is not giving up hope.

"If Peseiro would want to come, it would be a major plus for us because it shows that he loves the country," he added. "He already has the data of all our players and he knows their strengths and weaknesses. He is a top top coach.

"If he decides to come, I don't think we will debate over it and we won't need to look further."