Finidi George’s Super Eagles dream takes a major blow as Mali stun Nigeria

Finidi George's hopes of getting the Super Eagles job on a permanent basis appeared to have taken a blow after Mali beat Nigeria 2-0. || IMAGO

Finidi George’s Super Eagles dream takes a major blow as Mali stun Nigeria

Joba Ogunwale 00:06 - 27.03.2024

Finidi George’s hopes of taking the Nigeria Men’s national team job permanently suffered a setback after the Super Eagles lost to the Eagles of Mali.

The Super Eagles came into the game on the back of a 2-1 win over the Black Stars of Ghana in Finidi George’s first game. 

Finidi George's Super Eagles fail to replicate Ghana success

Finidi made a few changes to the side that defeated Ghana, with the likes of Moses Simon, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Raphael Onyedika coming into the starting lineup. 

However, unlike the game against Ghana, the Super Eagles had a slow start, with the Eagles of Mali looking more energetic. 

The Malians were more willing to take risks while Finidi’s men were just happy to keep proceedings safe. 

The lack of energy in Nigeria’s play would eventually cost them as the Malians took the lead in the 18th minute, although in fortunate circumstances. 

The Malians took the lead after Chidozie Awaziem’s unfortunate pass at the back fell into the path of El Bilal Toure, who made no mistake, slotting past Stanley Nwabali in Nigeria’s goal. 

Bilal Toure’s goal seemed to wake Nigeria up as they raised their tempo. Finidi’s men almost restored parity when Alex Iwobi found Moses Simon with a brilliant through ball, but the Nantes winger could not apply the right finish. 

That turned out to be Simon’s last act of the match as the former Levante winger got injured in the process, with Cyriel Dessers coming in for him.

Nigeria did continue to dominate possession but the three-time African champions could not create a clear chance as Mali went into the break with the lead. 

Super Eagles’ dominance fails to pay off 

The second half saw Nigeria dominate possession from start to finish. Finidi’s men pinned the Mailans back into the half as they searched for the equaliser. 

But despite the pressure, the Malians were compact in defence, with the Super Eagles failing to fashion an opening. 

However, moments later, the Super Eagles almost restored parity after Wilfred Ndidi set up Dessers with a fantastic pass. 

But the Rangers man could not keep his composure while through on goal as he blasted the ball over the bar. 

Nigeria continued to pile on the pressure, though, with Kelechi Iheanacho forcing the Malian goalkeeper to a smart save. 

But just as it looked like the three-time African champions would get the equaliser, the Malians punished them for their failure to take their chances as Kamory Doumbia doubled the Eagles advantage three minutes from time. 

Doumbia’s goal turned out to be the final nail in the coffin as the Eagles of Mali claimed a stunning win, denting Finidi’s hopes of getting the job permanently. 

Goals from El Bilal Toure and Kamory Doumbia condemned the Super Eagles of Nigeria to a 2-0 defeat against the Eagles of Mali in Finidi George’s second game in charge.