Why I believe Finidi will achieve great result with Eagles – Paul Okoku

Flying Eagles assistant captain of 1983 set, Paul Okoku, is confident that new Super Eagles coach, Finidi George, will be successful with the senior national team.

Finidi was recently unveiled at a ceremony well attended by key decision makers in Nigeria’s sport and football fraternity, at the MKO Abiola National Stadium in Abuja. President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Ibrahim Gusau, General-Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi, and Minister of Sports development, Senator John Enoh, were all present.

The 52-year-old spoke on his ambition and immediate tasks, which are the 2026 World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Benin Republic, as well as qualifying Nigeria for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Morocco, Okoku—a member of Flying Eagles team that qualified Nigeria to the first World Cup in Mexico over 40 years ago, said in a statement titled: “Igniting the Flame: Why I Back Finidi George as Head Coach of the Super Eagles”, that Finidi exudes confidence reminiscent of the winger’s playing career—similar to what late Stephen Keshi carried when he guided the Eagles to their third AFCON glory 11 years ago.

Okoku described Finidi’s appointment as a “new era” for Nigerian football. He called for maximum support for the new coach—such that would be granted a foreign manager.

“As the dawn breaks on a new era for Nigerian football, the announcement of Finidi George as the new chief coach of the Super Eagles reverberates across the nation, stirring a sense of anticipation and hope among football enthusiasts.While I may not be intimately familiar with his coaching credentials, there’s something about Finidi that resonates deeply within me—a sense of confidence that emanates from his humble demeanor and echoes of his illustrious playing career. It is this indomitable spirit, reminiscent of the legendary Stephen Keshi, that compels me to throw my support behind him.

“In the wake of Keshi’s passing, there is a palpable yearning for an indigenous coach to rise to the occasion and carry forward his legacy of success. Like Keshi, Finidi embodies the virtues of resilience and determination, qualities that transcend mere tactical prowess on the pitch. As we embark on this new footballing journey, it’s imperative that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) extends to Finidi George the same respect and support afforded to his foreign counterparts. Transparent contracts, stipulating payments in US Dollars and publicly disclosed salaries akin to European and American standards, are not extravagant requests—they are essential pillars of a nurturing environment conducive to success”, added Okoku

Speaking further, Okoku said,

“granting Finidi the freedom to handpick his coaching staff and outlining clear roles and responsibilities in his contract are crucial steps towards fostering a supportive and conducive working environment. Furthermore, it’s essential that the contract is signed before commencing the job, ensuring clarity and commitment from both parties. Moreover, considerations such as providing a vehicle and assigning a driver, as well as a comprehensive benefits package for the Chief Coach position, are necessary to ensure fairness and equality for all coaches, regardless of nationality or race.

“Crucially, Finidi must strike a delicate balance between humility and assertiveness, treating players with the dignity they deserve while instilling a culture of mutual respect and accountability. Only then can he truly harness the collective potential of the Super Eagles and propel them to greater heights on the international stage. With crucial qualifying matches looming on the horizon, including a much-anticipated rematch against South Africa hungry for revenge, the stakes couldn’t be higher. But as we stand on the precipice of a new era in Nigerian football, let us rally behind Finidi George—the beacon of hope who will guide our team to glory”, he said.

Okoku recalled Keshi’s firm believe in home-grown players and coaches, as underlining the abundant talents in the country, referencing the late coach’s trust in indigenous managers.

“As Keshi once emphatically told me, “Isn’t this country Nigeria of ours that produced the likes of Segun Odegbami, Paul Okoku, Chibuzor Ehilegbu, Yisa Shofoluwe, Adokiye Amesiemaka, Godwin Odiye, Henry Nwosu, Felix Owolabi, Andrew Uwe and Thompson Usiyan?” Indeed, it is time to embrace our indigenous talents and provide them with the opportunities they deserve to shine on the world stage,” he concluded.



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