Many were the expectations of Super Eagles fans as the Nigeria national team took on Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea in their opening game of AFCON 2023.
Following the win by hosts Ivory Coast on Saturday, the pressure was on the Super Eagles to win against their less fancied opponents and keep the momentum.
Things didn’t go to script for Jose Peseiro and his wards, making their encounter with the Elephants of Ivory Coast on Thursday a critical tie.
The Super Eagles played a 1-1 draw with Nzalang Nacional, and as usual, tongues have started wagging, with many calling for the head of Peseiro.
The Portuguese gaffer commented after the game and had plenty to complain about.
Despite the disappointing result, Peseiro remained in a buoyant mood despite the gloom on the faces of many Nigerians.
God did not want us to win – Peseiro on Super Eagles draw
The Super Eagles game against Equatorial Guinea ended 1-1. It was not the scoreline many expected, but Peseiro remains confident in his team and has blamed their inability to secure three points on the supernatural.
“I am sad, the players are also sad but God gives and God takes. Next game, God could give us.”
In a post-match press conference, Peseiro said he and the lads were sad at the outcome of the game and claimed they deserved to win.
“I am sad, the players are also sad but God gives and God takes. Next game, God could give us.” the coach said.
Jose Peseiro said after the draw against Equatorial Guinea that it's God that gives & takes points 😭 pic.twitter.com/aLnsOgJj0z
— MAYOR OF ABA (@OgbonnaCelesti9) January 14, 2024
He opined that luck was the main factor that worked against him in a game where the Super Eagles had seven shots on target.
To be fair to the Portuguese, the team's profligacy was glaring, with Victor Osimhen the biggest culprit. Had the Super Eagles converted some of their chances, the outcome would have been different.
Still speaking on luck, Peseiro said he was proud of his side and that they did well, but fortune did not favour them.
“We did everything to win, we created many and clear opportunities, and we simply deserved to win,” he opined.
The conditions worked against us
One of the bones of contention for Peseiro was the weather in Abidjan. He said it worked against them, but Peseiro praised his wards for managing the situation well.
“Playing 2pm isn't easy, so the temperature and humidity were not good, but our players managed it very well. It wasn't easy playing in these conditions.”
There were accusations against Peseiro of not making early substitutions, to which he countered with the players available.
He blamed the late arrival of Paul Onuachu for his late introduction.
“When the team don't win, people look for opinion. Onuachu arrived this morning and did not train with the side. I only introduced him for luck.”
Osimhen on Target But Nigeria Held 1-1 By Equatorial Guinea in Frustrating Start To AFCON
The result leaves José Peseiro’s team under pressure going into Thursday’s game against host nation Ivory Coast
— fury media (@furypunt_tips) January 14, 2024
The Super Eagles will need to up their game and be more clinical when they take on the hosts on Thursday.
The Ivorians have an advantage and are atop Group A with three points.
On the evidence of the performance of the Super Eagles against Equatorial Guinea, Peseiro would need divine assistance to overcome Ivory Coast.
This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago