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banner Sunday, 30 December, 2001, 18:35 GMT
Finidi quits after World Cup
Finidi George has wore Nigerian colours for a decade
Finidi George has wore Nigerian colours for a decade
By BBC Sport Online's Osasu Obayiuwana

Super Eagles winger Finidi George is planning to quit the international scene after the World Cup in Korea and Japan.

But George, with English Premiership club Ipswich, hopes he will bow out on a high.

"I hope that I'll end my career with the Super Eagles after the World Cup," George, 30, told BBC Sport Online.

"But I want to retire on a high note."

The Nigerians are in a so-called World Cup 'killer zone' with Argentina, England and Sweden.

The beginning of his quest for a 'fitting finale' will be at the African Nations Cup in Mali, starting on January 19.

The Super Eagles face the hosts, Liberia and Algeria in the first round group games.

  George's club file
Sharks FC, Port-Harcourt
Ajax Amsterdam FC
Real Betis, Spain
Real Mallorca, Spain
IpswichFC, England

"I still have the desire to give my best and I want to win this Nations Cup," said George, better known with his first name.

"My mates and myself are not going there for fun."

He is the oldest bird in the Super Eagles' nest having made his debut in 1991 against Burkina Faso.

Penalty loss

Alongside Austin "Jay-Jay" Okocha and Sunday Oliseh, George and Nigeria won the 1994 Nations Cup in Tunisia.

"Having that gold medal on my neck Tunis is something I cannot forget," he said.

"It was a dream come true. Since then, we have had our critics but we have to perform and win again."

The trio were in the team that lost the 2000 Nations Cup final on home soil to Cameroon on penalties.

Ikpeba's penalty was ruled out
Ikpeba's penalty was ruled out

That defeat still rankles in his mind.

"Losing that match was very painful and as far as I'm concerned, we were robbed," he moaned.

"At a crucial moment like that, when a trophy is at stake, referee and linesmen should not make mistakes."

The result could have been different had Tunisian referee Mourad Daami not adjudged team-mate Victor Ikpeba's kick as "no goal".

Afterwards, television replays showed that Ikpeba's kick actually crossed over the goal-line.

Key role

With a bronze medal he won with the side at the 1992 edition, George now has a complete collection of medals.

Now, he dismisses the critics who say some Eagles, including him, have lost the will to win.

I hope to end my career with the Super Eagles after the World Cup

"At this level, experience matters.

"The coaches have to get the right mix of youth and experience to ensure a complete team."

Getting a good result against Algeria, Nigeria's first Nations Cup match, will be crucial in deciding if his side can win the trophy, he said.

"If we lose from the very beginning, it will be very difficult for us."

The World Cup in Korea and Japan will be his third, having played key roles in the 1994 and 1998 finals.

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