Emmanuel Amuneke, Michael Nsien and Finidi George: Who could be the next Nigeria manager?

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Emmanuel Amuneke, Michael Nsien and Finidi George: Who could be the next Nigeria manager?
Emmanuel Amuneke has managed at international level before with Tanzania
Emmanuel Amuneke has managed at international level before with Tanzania
AFP
The Nigeria Football Federation is in search of a new head coach to lead the Nigeria national team, a position widely acknowledged as one of the most challenging in the sport. As anticipated, numerous candidates have submitted their applications for consideration.

After leading the Super Eagles to a second place finish at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, Jose Peseiro left his role after tenure of 22 months. Whichever coach comes in will face the arduous task of inspiring the team to success in international tournaments as well as fostering a positive culture and identity the West Africans are known for.

Given the prestige of leading the three-time African kings and their ardent fanbase, the NFF's selection process for a new head coach is likely to be thorough and meticulous, particularly with the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers looming in just two months. 

As the preference for an indigenous coach becomes apparent, the question arises: who might assume the role? Below, Flashscore examines the leading candidates.

Emmanuel Amuneke

Currently on the lookout for his next managerial opportunity, Amuneke is eyeing the chance to lead the Super Eagles. Widely regarded as the frontrunner to succeed Jose Peseiro, his track record speaks volumes.

The former African Player of the Year orchestrated a memorable journey with the Nigeria U17 team, clinching the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup title. Having coached talents like Samuel Chukwueze and Victor Osimhen during their formative years, he appears to be an ideal fit for the role.

In 2018, Amuneke assumed the helm of the Tanzania national team, guiding them to qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) the following year. However, the Taifa Star’s campaign in Egypt ended disappointingly as they bowed out in the group stage after three successive defeats.

Amuneke's coaching experience also includes stints with Al Khartoum (Sudan), Misr Lel Makkasa (Egypt), and Zanaco (Zambia). Nonetheless, some Nigerians may have reservations due to his association with the Super Eagles' technical crew during the unsuccessful qualification bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Finidi George

Arguably the most suitable choice for the Nigeria Football Federation, George has a close working relationship with former coach Peseiro and is intimately familiar with the current Super Eagles squad.

He got the chance to impress for the role when he took charge of international friendlies against Ghana and Mali. His side silenced rivals Ghana 2-1 before losing 2-0 to the Eagles.

In his debut coaching position, the Ajax legend played a pivotal role in guiding two-time African champions Enyimba to clinch their ninth Nigeria Professional Football League title in history. Furthermore, he has continued to exceed expectations, ensuring that the team maintains a high level of performance throughout the current season.

Super Eagles' Kenneth Omeruo has recently expressed his endorsement for the 52-year-old, and it appears that the sentiment has been echoed by the rest of the team.

"I actually think he knows what he is doing, and he deserves to be given the job," the ex-Chelsea man told BBC Sport Africa.

"The training programmes were very good and players were giving 100% in training." 

Ndubuisi Egbo 

Ndubuisi Egbo may find himself regarded as an outsider by certain segments of the Nigerian media. Nevertheless, his accomplishments are undeniably inspiring. During his tenure as manager of KF Tirana, he achieved remarkable feats in the UEFA Champions League.

On August 19th, 2020, Egbo led the Albanian side to a 2-0 triumph over Dinamo Tbilisi in Europe's premier club competition. In doing so, the former Super Eagles goalkeeper etched his name in history as the first Nigerian to lead a team in the Champions League.

Moreover, he made history again by becoming the first Nigerian to secure a victory in the tournament and the first from the West African nation to have a triumphant debut.

Egbo's achievements extend beyond his coaching career. Having represented Nigeria at two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, he has demonstrated both his leadership on the field and his ability to enact cultural transformations. His successful tenure with KF Tirana and Kosovo's FC Prishtina suggests that he possesses the potential to replicate his success with the illustrious Super Eagles.

Michael Nsien

The manager of the United States U19 team is a potential candidate to make the leap from the American soccer scene to the Super Eagles. Following a successful four-year tenure with FC Tulsa in the USL Championship, where he guided the club through its most prosperous period, the former Nigerian youth international transitioned to coaching the US U16 squad.

Nsien, boasting 14 years of coaching experience and holding both a U.S. Soccer Pro License and a UEFA "A" License, has earned acclaim for his adeptness at nurturing young talent and facilitating their progression to higher levels of play.

At the senior level, he served as an assistant to interim USA head coach Brian Callaghan during the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Despite his managerial achievements, the 43-year-old may not be universally favoured for the Super Eagles role, with lingering doubts about his ability to handle the egos of established players.  

Nonetheless, his track record of success suggests he could be a strong contender for the position.

Other possible home candidates

Other potential contenders in consideration include Samson Siasia, known for his adept management of Nigeria's youth teams. He briefly took the helm of the Super Eagles in 2016, albeit on an interim basis, following Sunday Oliseh's sudden departure. 

Oliseh, who is reported to have applied, and former Kano Pillars coach Salisu Yusuf are viewed as less likely candidates to assume the role. Henry Makinwa, presently without a position after an underwhelming tenure with Katsina United, has also been linked to the top job.

Additionally, Stephen Keshi's trusted assistant Sylvanus Okpala and Daniel Amokachi are also in contention for the vacant position. Regardless, only time will reveal whether they will ultimately be selected.

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