Jose Peseiro must make these changes if the Super Eagles want to win AFCON 2023


On Sunday, the Portuguese tactician began his tenure as the three-time African champions’ coach.

Bye-Bye ‘Pep Guardiola’, welcome Mr Jose Peseiro to Nigeria. After weeks of waiting, it is a new era for the Super Eagles of Nigeria as the Peseiro show kicked off in the early hours of Sunday evening.

The Portuguese tactician replaced ‘Austin Eguavoen Gwadiola’, who was in charge of Nigeria’s ill-fated 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and 2022 World Cup playoff campaign.

Austin Eguavoen was sacked after Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup

Eguavoen had claimed to love Guardiola’s style of football, but he could not lead Nigeria to glory at AFCON and the World Cup playoff against Ghana.

The two outcomes were catastrophic for Nigerian football, and as a result, Eguavoen and his technical crew were given the boot.

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Following Eguavoen’s sacking, the NFF began an immediate search for his replacement. And after days of waiting, Peseiro was finally announced as Nigeria’s coach.

Peseiro’s announcement did not come as a surprise, though, as he was supposed to take over from Eguavoen after AFCON. Eguavoen had taken over as an interim boss after Gernot Rohr was dismissed, but he was allowed to continue despite Nigeria’s second-round exit at AFCON 2021.

Nonetheless, four months after his name first came up, Peseiro is finally Nigeria’s coach. The Portuguese tactician officially started his one-year deal in the early hours of Sunday morning as Nigeria lost 2-1 to Mexico.

Jose Peseiro started life as Super Eagles head coach with a 2-1 defeat to Mexico

Peseiro has been tasked to lead Nigeria to their fourth AFCON title next year. While the objective is attainable, the former Porto manager must carry out some changes to achieve his goal.

Pulse Sports highlights Peseiro’s to-do list if he wants to become the first coach since Stephen Keshi to win Nigeria an AFCON title.

Phase-out Ahmed Musa

Musa has been a wonderful servant for Nigeria since he made his debut in 2011. He was part of the team that won AFCON 2013 and Nigeria’s top scorer at the World Cup with four goals.

However, while Musa’s dedication to Nigeria’s cause cannot be questioned, it is time for the team to move on without him.

His best days are behind him, and there are better players in the squad. Musa had initially said he would likely retire after the 2022 World Cup, but Nigeria’s failure to qualify means he would likely play until AFCON 2023.

He was in the squad that played against Mexico in Peseiro’s first game in charge. But the truth is Musa has no business in the team anymore.

Ahmed Musa has been a Super Eagles player since 2011

The former Leicester City man is not in the squad because of his qualities or form but because of what he has done in the past and his captaincy.

Nigeria are currently blessed with a host of talented young attackers, and these are the players that should be Peseiro’s main focus.

The ex-Venezuela manager needs to gradually phase out Musa and allow these talented young attackers to take the captain’s place.

It may be a difficult thing to do, but it is a decision Peseiro must take if he wants to achieve success with the team.

While critics may argue that Musa does not play when invited, it still does not change the fact a player who is more deserving of a call-up gets left out to satisfy the captain.

It is time for the team to move on without him.

Ban NFF Shenanigans

Eguavoen’s tactical ineptitude was not the only reason Nigeria failed at AFCON 2021. The team also failed because there were a lot of distractions, no thanks to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

There was no reason for NFF’s president Amaju Pinnick to be in the team’s dressing room, discussing tactics with the players.

He had no business praying with the players in the locker room. Not only that, the cash promises made by notable Nigerian businessmen did not help the team’s cause in Cameroon.

Amaju Pinnick was a distraction for the Super Eagles at AFCON 2021

All these shenanigans contributed to the team’s failure in the competition. Also, he needs to ensure that the Super Eagles are not used as a political tool, especially with the election season in full swing.

Although he is likely to step on toes, Peseiro will need to stop these distractions as it does not help the team. If these businessmen really care about the Super Eagles, they should invest the cash promises into the development of local football in the country.

Do not bow to NPFL pressure

Peseiro will likely face the problem his predecessor, Gernot Rohr, faced. Throughout his time as Nigeria’s coach, Rohr was criticised for his treatment of players in the domestic league.

Peseiro will likely face the same issue, but the Portuguese manager will need to stand his ground.

The 62-year-old should not bow to pressure from journalists, who want local players included in the Super Eagles squad.

Jose Peseiro (c) must not bow to pressure from journalists

He should only invite players based on merit and not because he plays in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).

Get the best out of Joe Aribo

Aribo was one of Nigeria’s best players in the just-concluded European football season. The ex-Charlton man was brilliant again for Rangers, helping them reach the Europa League final.

But while Aribo shined for the Gers this season, he struggled in most of the games he played for Nigeria.

The 25-year-old did not do enough in Nigeria’s World Cup playoff games against Ghana. It is clear that Aribo is talented, but he has not had an excellent match for Nigeria since 2019.

Joe Aribo has not been able to replicate his performances for Rangers for Nigeria

One of the issues with Aribo in the national team is where to play him. Due to his versatility, he can play anywhere in the midfield and play as a striker.

Considering his talents, it is important that Peseiro finds his best position in the Super Eagles squad and get the best out of him.

Only select players playing regularly

In recent games, ex-Super Eagles coaches have called up players struggling for game time at their respective clubs. Peseiro will need to change that as this would make the players sit up.

The ex-Braga man must select only players playing regularly for their clubs irrespective of their status in the team.

Ekong played against Mexico despite his lack of game time.

Players like William-Troost Ekong should not be getting game time ahead of the likes of Kevin Akpoguma and Chidozie Awaziem.

It is time to raise the standards in the squad.

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