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FINIDI: NFF IS NOW GETTING IT RIGHT

Ex-Eagles winger, Finidi George believes positive transformations are in the     Offing For Nigerian football in this interview with JOHNNY EDWARD


Complete Sports: Compliments of the season sir
Finidi George: Same to you my brother.

How did you receive the news of the death of your former colleague, Uche Okafor last Friday and do you think he had any reason(s) to commit suicide as reported?

It’s a news that I still can’t comprehend how it happened. Personally, I’m battered by it because I don’t think he would have taken his life just like that for no just cause. To me, he was not living in poverty in the US neither was he suffering from any emotional trauma, but since the reports stated  that he did commit suicide, then I think that’s mostly unfortunate. It’s quite a shocking news for me in the New Year.

I don’t really know what happened because people have so many personal problems which could push them to doing so many things. We just have to wait and get the update after proper investigation as regards his death.  But based on reports I got from some of our colleagues, he had no problem whatsoever to warrant such act and that he was in a good mood when they saw him. I don’t know what might have triggered that act.

It could be suicide but we don’t really know because how could you drop your child at school and the next line of action for you is to hang yourself? I’d wait to hear what really led to his death
What plans do you (his former colleagues) have for his bereaved family in the US and in Nigeria?

Yes, we have some plans. There are people in Nigeria who have contacted his family there. Ben Iroha and others have started mapping out plans on that. We would do all we can to see that he gets the best but I can not say anything here because I have not been asked to do so. But the most important thing firstly is to get the body down to Nigeria for a befitting burial. Somebody very close to the family has to inform us when that would happen. Until that arrangement has been put in place, we’d keep mute on our plans.

Permit me to take your mind to other national football issues. The NFF has appointed Salisu Yusuf and Ike Shorunmu as assistants to Samson Siasia. Do you think that decision was in order?

They made the best choice for Samson Siasia and I think Shorunmu would bring his wealth of experience to bear on the goalkeepers in the team as well. I don’t know much about Salisu but he will do a good job for the team having worked with Siasia at the U-20 level in Egypt in 2009.

Ike is a very good friend and I can vouch for his potentials. I think it’s good omen for our national team, having people who have played the game at the highest level to work with the new coach and personally, I’m happy with that choice simply because it has not brought any rancour between Samson and the NFF.

And the choice of Austin Eguavoen as U-23 coach?

Fantastic. I would have been disappointed if they had given the job to another person. They did the right thing appointing him as the coach of the team. If they had appointed a foreigner for that job, that would have been uncalled-for, but I guess it’s a reward for helping the nation after serving as a caretaker boss. It’s a good thing as the board is now doing what is right with our national teams.

Finidi, The Flying Eagles have been drawn alongside arch rivals Ghana, Cameroon and Gambia in the forth coming African Youth Championship to be held in Libya in March. Do you think the John Obuh led team stands any chance of qualifying from that group?

John Obuh has done very well for Nigeria and for himself guiding our team to a second place finish at the U-17 World Cup and qualifying the U-20 team for this championship. He has every possibility of achieving a greater feat with the team but we just have to wish him well and hope things fall in the right place in the New Year. It’s a very tough group but for you to be a winner you have to play big games in competitions.

But the team would play their first game against Ghana who are the defending champions of the competition.  And having defeated the Flying Eagles en-route their triumph in the last edition, do you think they’ll have an edge psychologically?

Every tournament is different. It’s all about this current team taking their chances when they have them and doing the best they can to see how we can rule Africa again at that level. Impossible is nothing though it might look difficult.

On a final note sir, what are your expectations for all our national teams this year?

Good results because it’s been a while since we had something like that. With the new team getting under way, I expect nothing short of good result, from Siasia and co., but we have to have it in mind that we need to give them time to fully blend into that kind of teams that we all would be proud of. For me, winning games in style would bring back smiles on the faces of Nigerians again.

Thanks for your time sir and Gracias

(Laughs)...You’re welcome.


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