2026 WCQ: Finidi explains Boniface no show, appeals to Nigerians to allow him work

2026 WCQ: Finidi  explains Boniface no show, appeals to Nigerians to allow him work

Gloom has enveloped the Nigeria football family since the referee blew the final whistle on Friday night to end the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying match between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and Bafana Bafana of South Africa.

The prospect of the Eagles missing the next World Cup after missing the 2022 World Cup is one many Nigerians dread.

In a country where market women, Okada riders, and spare parts sellers are coaches and managers, Eagles coaches and players have been lampooned repeatedly while nothing is being said about the main culprits, the head of NFF Ibrahim Gusau and the General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi.

The failures we are seeing on the field are the results of Gusau and Sanusi's ineptitude in the office.

While pleading for Nigerians' understanding, the head coach of the Super Eagles, Finidi George, has explained why Victor Boniface didn’t feature in the 1-1 draw with South Africa on Friday.

Boniface was widely expected to start the game with Victor Osimhen injured.

But Finidi left the Bayer Leverkusen forward on the bench for the entire duration of the game.

When asked by reporters about the decision, he replied: “Allow us to do our jobs.

“We wanted to introduce Boniface and Moffi, but Semi had a knock and we had to take him off and introduce Moffi and Onyedika.

“The fans and media would shout for different players, if they don’t perform well, the shout will be, take him off. Allow us to do our jobs.”

Meanwhile, South Africa head coach, Hugo Broos praised his players after their hard-earned 1-1 draw against Nigeria on Friday night.

The former African champions put up an impressive performance in the encounter played at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo.

Fisayo Dele-Bashiru cancelled out Thembo Zwane’s first-half strike to ensure the Super Eagles earned a share of the spoils.

Bafana Bafana now has four points from three games and remains in contention to secure a place at the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Reacting to the outcome of the game, Broos said: “I have to congratulate my players. As you know or you don’t know, we had a terrible travel to Nigeria on Wednesday.

“We were only in bed at two o’clock on Thursday morning. So we were 20 hours on the way. And when you see the mentality in the team today, then I can only be proud of my players.”

South Africa will be up against Zimbabwe at the Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein on Tuesday.