Before AFCON 2023, many Super Eagles fans wanted Jose Peseiro out, and the reasons are not far-fetched. The team they loved and adored looked nothing like what they were used to.
The Super Eagles struggled to beat minnows in the game and even lost an AFCON qualifying game to Guinea in their backyards.
It was not just about the results but how the team played. They looked shoddy, without a discernable pattern and struggled to impose themselves on lesser teams despite the supposed array of stars the team possessed.
With the Super Eagles through to the semi-final, Jose Peseiro is guaranteed of marching out his wards for two more games and with a solid chance of winning Nigeria its fourth AFCON title.
Perhaps the time is right for Nigerians to apologise to the Portuguese for giving him grief.
Why Nigerians must apologise to Jose Peseiro
Jose Peseiro has hit his target
Following the lacklustre performance by the Super Eagles before AFCON 2023, many Nigerians seemed to share the same opinion that the Portuguese must go.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) would have sacked the manager and had received a proposal to dump the gaffer and have Emmanuel Amuneke take over his job.
However, Jose Peseiro remained in the job because the NFF could not pay him off and did not want to risk the ire of FIFA.
Everybody is praising Osimhen, Lookman, no one is acknowledging this man Jose Peseiro for his hard work , great training and best decisions . God bless you Sir. pic.twitter.com/j1RTiSykup
— Dr Penking™🇳🇬🇦🇺 (@drpenking) February 2, 2024
The NFF owed several months' salary, but he kept doing his job. Before the NFF extended his salary, several sources claimed the Federation would find it difficult to pay his $70,000 monthly salary.
Declaring his love for Nigeria, Jose Peseiro took a pay cut and agreed to an AFCON semi-final clause attached to his new contract.
Jose Peseiro has rebuilt the Super Eagles
Nigerians want a Super Eagles side that plays a flamboyant style of football. They want a swashbuckling side that dominates its opponents, is beautiful to watch and scores plenty of goals.
What they do not understand is that despite having several attacking players, including the likes of African Footballer of the Year, Victor Osimhen, Kelechi Iheanacho, Victor Boniface, Terem Moffi, Ademola Lookman and Moses Simon, the team has its limitations.
Jose Peseiro quickly understood that he had to rework the team to get it to perform at its optimum.
He switched the team from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-3, and despite a few flaws, the team is now working like a well-oiled machine. The team is not scoring many goals, but they have become difficult to break down and play more as a unit.
Jose Peseiro has proved his doubters wrong
It is right and noble to apologise when wrong, and Nigerians who criticized Jose Peseiro need to eat humble pie.
From questioning his credentials to calling for his head and claiming that nothing good could come out of the Super Eagles at AFCON 2023, Jose Peseiro has confounded even his biggest doubters.
He has reshaped the functions of several players in the team, including Alex Iwobi and Ola Aina, and resurrected the performance of William Troost-Ekong.
If there is one thing he should praised for (no matter how it happened), it is bringing Stanley Nwabali to the team to stabilize the goalkeeping department.
Jose Peseiro has given Nigerians reasons to believe in the Super Eagles again
Many Nigerians had lost hope in the Super Eagles and showed little interest in their affairs.
It was easy to ridicule the team any time they played. The last tournament saw the Super Eagles crash out in the Round of 16 to Tunisia, and the poor results against Lesotho and Zimbabwe (World Cup qualifier), Guinea in a pre-AFCON friendly compounded issues.
Nigeria 1 – 1 Equatorial Guinea
Côte d’ivoire 0 – 1 Nigeria
Guinea-Bissau 0 – 1 Nigeria
Nigeria 2 – 0 Cameroon
Nigeria 1 – 0 Angola
One goal conceded in the entire competition. Jose Peseiro monsterclass 🇳🇬🇳🇬🇳🇬 pic.twitter.com/KCDtzi2qQD
— Tomi (@tomiwebstr) February 2, 2024
Since the draw against Equatorial Guinea, the team has shown a different side and has the meanest defence at AFCON 2023.
Apart from rekindling the faith of millions of football fans, he has also put food on the table for sports journalists as interest in the Super Eagles has returned.
The Super Eagles beat Angola to book a place in the semi-final, so what next for the NFF?
If Jose Peseiro decides to renew his contract with the NFF, how would they pay his salary? The NFF should work hard to ensure the gaffer gets all he needs to win AFCON 2023. If the Super Eagles win, corporate bodies would be willing to return to lift the team.
This article was most recently revised and updated 3 weeks ago