Int’l friendly: Coach George commends Super Eagles despite loss to Mali

Super Eagles interim coach Finidi George has commended his team despite their loss to Mali in an international friendly on Tuesday in Marrakech, Morocco.

The Super Eagles faced a tough challenge from Mali’s Les Aigles, resulting in a 2-0 defeat at the Stade de Marrakech. This victory marked a significant milestone for Mali, as it was their first win against Nigeria in 49 years. Goals from El Bilal Toure and Kamory Doumbia secured the win for Mali. The last time Mali defeated the Super Eagles was on September 5, 1975, in another friendly match that ended 4-1.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, the Eagles were unbeaten in eight straight fixtures against the Malians, recording five wins and three draws.

Despite the loss, George was optimistic and praised his team, stating to reporters on Thursday that it wasn’t a bad game overall. He highlighted the good intensity and great depth displayed by his players, acknowledging that a few mistakes cost them the match.

“We created a couple of chances but couldn’t score, and you know in a game like this, if you don’t take your chances and you make some mistakes, you will be punished. But I think I am happy with the way the boys played, and there are a lot of positives to take away from the game.

“Football being what it is, it’s all about victory, but I am looking at other aspects of the game which I feel we controlled,” he said.

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He observed that the Malians were aggressive in the first half and noted that the blunder leading to their first goal boosted their confidence.

He explained that his team had to come all out in the second half as they had nothing to lose, while their opponents sat deep and played more defensively.

“But in as much as they did that, we had one or two chances to have scored, but I am quite happy with the way we responded. If you look at the game and the way the boys played, if you just take away those two goals, you will think we were the team winning.

“But that’s football for you, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

“It is a friendly game and we have seen one or two players that can be used in the future and that’s the most important thing,” he said.

On his overall assessment of the performance of the team after the two friendly games, he said the performance of the players was commendable.

“It was not a bad one. We won one and lost the other, but we were not outplayed which is a good thing.

“I think we did so well in the first game and I would have loved a different result in the second but that was not the case.

“This is a team that keeps the ball very well and using two strikers I think helped us, forced our opponents to play wide and made us press a little bit more,” he said.

Credible News reports that the Super Eagles’ next challenge is the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Benin Republic.

Nigeria take on the Bafana Bafanas in Uyo and then confront Benin Republic away from home in the international window of June 3-11, in Match Days 3 and 4 of the qualifying campaign.



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