Exclusive: Super Eagles boss Finidi hoping to exploit South Africa’s weaknesses

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The Super Eagles will face an uphill task against a familiar foe in South Africa when the two nations face off in the 2026 FIFA World Cup African qualifiers in June.

The Super Eagles, who were victorious the last time the two countries met in the semifinals of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), will have a new man on the sidelines when they lock horns at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, Akwa Ibom, on Friday, June 7.

George Finidi is now tasked with leading Nigeria to the next World Cup slated to be held in the USA, Canada, and Mexico – their first since missing out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The 53-year-old former international spoke to Afrosport about the possibility of exploiting weaknesses in Bafana Bafana as the Super Eagles will be looking to win their first game in Group C of the African qualifiers.

“The last time we met them [South Africa] was at the AFCON, but this game will be different as it is going to be a World Cup qualifier,” Finidi said.

“They are a difficult side to face, and we know all about them, but they also have weaknesses, which we will also be thinking of how to exploit.

“We will play our football because we are playing at home. We will try to up our intensity, and I promise that if we do that, we will have every possibility of winning the match.”

The former Ajax and Real Betis winger recently led Nigeria in two games as interim coach—a 2-1 win against Ghana’s Black Stars and a 2-0 defeat to the Eagles of Mali.

When asked about his approach and philosophy for football, especially concerning the Super Eagles, Finidi, who also led Nigeria’s most successful club, Enyimba, to triumph in the domestic league last season, highlighted the importance of the team attacking and defending with a similar intensity.

“First and foremost, my philosophy is to play good football… attractive football, but at the same time, keeping the balance when we lose the ball,” Finidi stated.

“It’s all about knowing when to defend and attack honestly. Although the formation is important, the players must also know when to defend when we lose the ball because going forward is easy, but defending is a task that sometimes players find difficult to do.

“However, with the caliber of players we have, they do that weekly in Europe with their clubs, so it wouldn’t be a problem to inculcate that [defending] into them when they are with us.”

The Super Eagles are currently third in Group C of the African qualifiers for the World Cup, with two points from two draws in their first two games against Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

Their upcoming game against Bafana Bafana is looking like a must-win if they are to bolster their hopes of returning to the World Cup.

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