The July African Nations Cup qualifier between the Super Eagles and the Leone Star of Sierra Leone could be Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro last in charge of the three-time African champions going by the feelers in the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
The former Real Madrid assistant coach’s one-year contract as the Super Eagles coach ended on June 30 with the Ibrahim Gusau-led NFF board reluctant to activate the clause which allowed both parties to extend the relationship for another 12 months over the team poor performance since he took over from ex-international Austin Eguavoen in July last year.
In 10 matches played by Super Eagles under the Portuguese tutelage, the team won four, lost five and drew only one against the second-string Algerian side in September last year.
Aside the results, the team underwhelming display in those matches and the manager’s selection of players forced many to question the rationale behind his appointment ahead of other candidates, including the former France captain, Laurent Blanc and ex-PSV defender, Phillip Cocu, that vied for the job.
In a chat with journalists recently, Gusau reaffirmed the federation’s commitment to the development of the round leather game in the country.
He was however silent on the future of the Super Eagles manager despite the latter’s desire to continue in the role.
At the last count, six foreign managers, including the Dutch legend, Clarence Seedorf, have declared their interest in the Nigerian national team job.
However, due to the Nigerians’ lack of trust in Peseiro’s coaching ability, he appears to have the backing of his players.
The team’s top striker, Victor Osimhen, in a chat with journalists in Lagos last week described the former Saudi Arabia and Venezuela coach as a quality manager that would ultimately lead the team to its fourth African title in Ivory Coast next January.
Osimhen’s confidence stemmed from the team’s 3-2 victory over Sierra Leone in the last match played in Monrovia, Liberia.
Without doubt the current Super Eagles possessed the necessary firepower in attack to brush aside every opposition, including the reigning champions, the Teranga Lion of Senegal and the 2022 World Cup semi-finalist, Morocco, when the biennial soccer tournament kicked off in the Francophone West African country in about six months.
While there are question marks on the ability of the former Real Madrid coach to lead Nigeria to glory in Ivory Coast in January as well as qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico, none of the candidates linked with the job, including the Nigerian trio of former Super Eagles stars – Finidi George, Emmanuel Amuneke and Sunday Oliseh possess the qualities to lead the present crop of talented but inexperienced Super Eagles players.
The failure of Nigeria to qualify for the last World Cup in Qatar largely pointed to the dearth of quality coaches in Nigeria.
To be continued…