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Key Moments From Jose Peseiro’s Super Eagles

Key Moments From Jose Peseiro’s Super Eagles

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have not won a friendly match since 2019 and the latest defeat to Ecuador makes it five games without a win for the three-time African champions. We take a look at the key moments of the first two games under the new coach.

Jose Peseiro’s appointment as the new head coach of the Super Eagles came some weeks ago and the Portuguese tactician has only had two training sessions with the team before he took charge of his first game in a friendly match against Mexico 

which ended in a 2-1 defeat, the second game was played yesterday in New Jersey, and it also ended in a defeat for his side but the performance is somewhat encouraging.

In the first game against Mexico, the Portuguese manager started with a 3-5-2 set up which gave room for the opponent to explore the space behind the two wing-backs. After a woeful display in two first-half, Peseiro switched back to the 4-4-2 formation, the switch prompted composure and control from the team but it was too late to get something out of the game. Peseiro maintained the latter setup in the second game against Ecuador with Joe Aribo and Alex Iwobi pairing in the midfield area and Sani Faisal coming in for Innocent Bonke.

The setup didn’t stop the Eagles from conceding three minutes into the game as Villarreal’s left-back Pervis Estupiñán was left unmarked to head home the freekick from the wide area. Although the Super Eagles controlled most of the game with a good display and lots of goalscoring chances created by the likes of Aribo, Bassey, and Iwobi, they couldn’t find the leveler.

Peseiro will have to worry about the lack of understanding between his wingers and central forwards with the likes of Emmanuel Dennis, Cyriel Dessers, and Terem Moffi missing a good number of chances, the manager should also be aware
of the defensive line after a lackluster defending that led to two out of the three goals that have been conceded so far.

Moses Simon started as a right wing-back in the game against Mexico and it looked like the winger was lost in the game with the first goal coming from his position,  Francis Uzoho’s save came off Gimenez into the back of the net to give the Mexican a well-deserved lead, the second goal was Troost-Ekong trying to clear out a cross only for him to put the ball into his net.

Some of the goals conceded can be attributed to the fact that the players have not trained together enough under the new manager and that can only be improved through extra training sessions. In the two games so far, Peseiro has been seen as the man that can make tactical or individual changes when things are not going well which is a good thing to start with.

Another notable moment from the two games is the Super Eagles displaying an improved level of game control and ball retention as suppose to the previous games before now, this was evident in the second half of the game against Mexico with a well-worked goal and also in the larger part of the second game against Ecuador.

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However, the 62-year-old will need to work
out his strongest team especially in the midfield with the absence of the injured Wilfred Ndidi,  the experimental pairing of Iwobi and Aribo doesn’t seem to work well as both players are attacking-minded and not good enough to shield the back line. 

When Peseiro got his appointment, he said that one of his goals is to make sure the players reach their full potential which is quite commendable but to achieve that, he must bridge the gap between the defense and the midfield, the absence of a defensive midfielder showed in the two games so there is a need to identify a defensive midfielder that can blend with Aribo and Iwobi to make up the midfield while also working on the best backline set up to suit his style of play.

Indeed, we are still in the early days of this new era and it’s too early to judge given that the squad selection is made up of eight players from the Nigeria Profesional Football but the coach will look to have the full squad as they prepare to start the 2023 AFCON qualifying campaign next week against Sierra Leone and São Tomé and Príncipe.

The warm-up matches have been more of positive takes but Peseiro needs to sort out his team’s weaknesses as soon as possible to start getting points.

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