Nigeria has appointed its former winger Finidi George as head coach, officials said on Monday, elevating the 53-year-old from his previous role as assistant.

George worked under former coach Jose Peseiro and took over after the latter’s contract was not renewed despite leading Nigeria to the final of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast where it lost to the host.

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George was interim coach for two friendlies in March, a 2-1 victory over Ghana and a 2-0 defeat by Mali, and now has the job permanently.

His immediate task will be to get Nigeria’s 2026 World Cup qualification campaign back on track after a surprise 1-1 draw with tiny Lesotho at home and Zimbabwe in neutral Rwanda.

It next faces South Africa in Uyo and Benin in neutral Ivory Coast in early June.

George, who lifted the 1995 Champions League with Ajax Amsterdam, was part of Nigeria’s Golden Generation that claimed the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations title and competed at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups. He won 62 caps, scoring six goals.