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Int’l friendly: Coach George takes positives from Super Eagles’ defeat

Super Eagles interim coach Finidi George has reserved special praise for his team despite losing to their Malian counterparts in an international friendly on Tuesday in Marrakech, Morocco.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Super Eagles were given a reality check by Mali’s Les Aigles as they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat in a friendly game played at the Stade de Marrakech.

The rare win by the Malians against Nigeria was their first in 49 years.

Goals by El Bilal Toure and Kamory Doumbia sealed the win for Mali.

The last time Mali defeated the Super Eagles was on Sept. 5, 1975, also in a friendly that ended 4-1.

Before 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 full of praise for his boys and told Nan on Thursday that it was not a bad game as it was filled with good intensity and great depth, adding that just 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 that I feel we controlled,” he said.

He noted that the Malians were aggressive in the first half, adding that the blunder that led to their first goal also helped them build their confidence.

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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.

“However, if you look at the overall performance of the players, I think it is commendable.

“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.

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

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Nigeria takes on the Bafana Bafanas in Uyo and then confronts the Benin Republic away from home in the international window of June 3–11, in Match Days 3 and 4 of the qualifying campaign. (NAN)

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