AFCON 2023 kicks off today, and the Super Eagles manager – Jose Peseiro, remains in a bullish mood ahead of their first game against Nzalang Nacional on Sunday.
The Super Eagles are in Group A with hosts Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea Bissau.
Jose Peseiro is not losing sleep about the chances of his team qualifying for the next round.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of their encounter on Sunday, Jose Peseiro communicated his confidence in his team as he spoke about several issues affecting his side.
Amongst the things he spoke about were his team's readiness for the tournament, salaries & bonuses and the negative feedback from Nigerians.
Jose Peseiro is calm about the Super Eagles chances in Ivory Coast
Many Nigerians are worried about the chances of the Super Eagles winning their fourth AFCON tournament, especially with their poor outings in recent games.
In a press conference ahead of their opening game of AFCON 2023, Jose Peseiro does not share the same sentiments.
When asked if his team was under any pressure, the Portuguese gaffer of the Nigerian team denied it.
He claims the squad is calm and ready to do the nation proud in Ivory Coast.
"I believe in my players from the goalkeeper to the attacker…."
– Jose Peseiro (@NGSuperEagles Coach).
— Adeniyi Muyiwa (@SportRetina1) January 13, 2024
“Yes the last few results have not been good, but we play so well which is good,” Jose Peseiro said.
The gaffer continued, “We create good and many opportunities which means we play well. Some times, the opponent gets one chance and score but we have a good team.”
The Super Eagles have not had favourable results in their last few games.
In the FIFA 2026 World Cup qualifiers, they are third in Group C, behind Rwanda and South Africa, after garnering just two points from two games.
The Super Eagles drew 1-1 with Lesotho and Zimbabwe. They also lost 2-0 to Guinea in a pre-tournament friendly.
He also commented on the balance in the team. “I believe in the players. Each team has more quality in certain positions. My job is to find the balance.,” the gaffer opined.
About salaries and feedback
Jose Peseiro also aired his angst at the feedback he has been receiving from Nigerians. According to the Portuguese, it is not the right way to grow the team and get better performances.
Speaking on the negative feedback he had been receiving, Jose Peseiro said he was uncomfortable with the feedback and criticism on social media.
According to the Portuguese, he will never respond to comments from naysayers on the various digital platforms.
In the past, salaries and bonuses have been a thorn in the side of the Super Eagles, and it again cropped up, but Jose Peseiro claims it is a non-issue.
“Money and bonuses should be the last discussion, we need good results first. We all need money, but money is the last discussion,” the gaffer said.
“I don't discuss my salary and bonuses with the media,” Peseiro concluded.
Iheanacho and Onuachu arrive in Ivory Coast
There were rumours that Kelechi Iheanacho suffered a setback in his recovery from injury and might not make it in time for the tournament, but Jose Peseiro gave Nigerians a rare piece of good news.
He told the press that Iheanacho and Paul Onuachu had arrived for the tournament.
Paul Onuachu was a late replacement for Sadiq Umar, who copped an injury in training.
Jose Peseiro confirms Kelechi Iheanacho and Paul Onuachu arrived this morning.
— Soar Super Eagles (@SSE_NGA) January 13, 2024
Terem Moffi (who replaced Victor Boniface) is another replacement expected to join the team on Sunday.
Finally, Peseiro allowed team captain Ahmed Musa to touch on the controversial issue of the goalkeepers, who claimed the squad had implicit confidence in all the goalkeepers.
Nigeria plays their first game on Sunday against Equatorial Guinea.
This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago