AFCON qualifiers: Dissecting Nigeria’s shock 1-0 defeat to Guinea-Bissau
Jose Peseiro came highly recommended.
When the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) appointed the Portuguese as the new head coach of the Super Eagles, it was made obvious that Jose Mourinho was consulted.
“Of course Mourinho, I am not going to tell you we didn’t talk to Mourinho because we did and the (sports) minister also talked to Mourinho and there is nothing wrong with it,” the immediate past NFF chairman, Amaju Pinnick, said.
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by the football Peseiro has served us.
Sometimes it has looked like the boring, lifeless, disjointed style Mourinho’s Roma plays every other week in the Serie A.
Nigeria came into Friday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Guinea-Bissau at the Abuja National Stadium on the back of a three-game winless run.
But, of course, you would expect the Eagles to get a win against the Djurtus and end it.
Mama Balde’s goal in the first half of the game proved to be the winner, as they won against Nigeria for the first time in their history.
Peseiro’s men spent the second half ambling around a dreadful pitch and aiming crosses at Victor Osimhen and Paul Onuachu.
So what went wrong?
“Amalgam of everything. Bad coaching, uninterested players, especially up top, horrible pitch & that godforsaken Abuja stadium,” Temisan Okomo, a Sport journalist/presenter with Classic FM and Lagos Talks913, tells DAILY POST.
Ayotunde Onabolu, who was the Head of Sports at Inspiration FM, before heading to the US where he covers the NBA, insists the players must take the bulk of the blame.
“Two days into the game, Victor Osimhen spoke to reporters and assured Nigerians that they would do everything in their power to win the hearts of the nation since their failure to qualify for the Qatar 2022 World Cup. With that in mind, I expected that the Super Eagles would come out firing, but with patience, especially since Guinea Bissau were the clear underdogs.
“What I saw was a team that lacked chemistry and cohesion. There were too many gaps in the midfield. The wingers felt like they could dribble their way into the box, and the few times they managed to do this, their final ball was awful. They controlled possession, but their lack of creativity made it fairly easy for Guinea Bissau to defend as though they were world class defenders.
“I also noticed that coach Peseiro was barking out instructions and it appeared as though some of the players were not playing to the coach’s satisfaction. The pitch is a story for another day.
“The fans (whose numbers were appalling) were subdued for most of the match, and I think the NFF needs to begin to identify the right places to host games where heavy crowds can gather.
“You would notice I didn’t mention any player in my thoughts. That’s because they were all poor during the game. The good thing is that only three games have been played, providing an opportunity for improvement beginning with the reverse fixture on Monday.
“Whilst I am utterly disappointed, Nigeria is still my country, and I’m optimistic that the team will improve,” Onabolu said.
The improvement has to be instant. Guinea-Bissau will host the reverse fixture in another three days and they will be looking to open up a lead at the top of Group A.
But Okomi is hanging onto the hope that the Eagles’ second half showing in Abuja would count for something at the Estadio 24 de Setembro in Bissau on Monday.
“We looked better in the 2nd half though.
“Maybe a slim 1-0 win as well,” he added.