The tortuous, laborious and long journey to the 2026 FIFA world cup to be joint co-hosted by the United States of America, Canada and Mexico has already begun.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) led by Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau got their man, Jose Peseiro to continue as the Super Eagles helmsman when they issued him a contract renewal despite insistence and pressure from a few of us in the media not to retain the coach on the grounds of incompetence, technical and tactical ineptitude, they still went ahead and had their way, although, Peseiro had to take a pay slash to remain on the job.
Just two games into the qualifiers against the Crocodiles of Lesotho where the Eagles managed to hold the visitors to a 1-1 score draw at home in Uyo, at the God’swill Akpabio stadium, also known as the Nest of Champions, and another 1-1 against Zimbabwe away, all hell seems to be let loose and expectedly so. Nigerians have turned on the panic button and have now just realised or seen what some of us had seen long before now.
That singular decision by the Gusau new led NFF board, not having the temerity or guts to discontinue with Peseiro whom they inherited from the past administration, is now coming into full circle.
No doubt, with Peseiro still in charge of the Eagles, Nigerians must quickly go and buy themselves a new calculator because the era of permutation is back. We have returned to that familiar road which we all hate to walk, but unfortunately this is the reality and we brought it upon ourselves.
To avoid the risk of sounding like a prophet of doom, I will advise again that the NFF fire peseiro now with immediate alacrity, otherwise the AFCON and world cup dreams will be dashed even before they started. Peseiro is playing trial and error with our Eagles. He’s even more confused than the players he’s leading.
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As poor as Gernot Rohr was as a coach, he has always qualified the multi- talented Nigerian team to every competition we entered for with games to spare. But Peseiro is still wallowing in confusion even after close to two years on the job, not know what to do and where to start from. The Eagles coaching job is a serious business that should not be left in the hands of apprentice to use for experimentations.
South Africa may open an early 4 points lead on Tuesday if they beat Rwanda in their game after the Eagles could only monster 2 points from a possible 6 in their first two matches of the campaign.
How can a coach still be chopping and cutting his squad in a qualifier as serious as the world cup. Peseiro started Collins, Osawuyi as full backs against Lesotho with Lookman and Iheanacho as wide players. Meanwhile, against Zimbabwe, he played Onyemaech, Aina as full backs while he also went for Simon and Tella as wide players. This is completely bizarre and wouldn’t help team chemistry and cohesion. There is nothing wrong in changing one or two players that didn’t live up to expectation in the first game but there’s everything wrong in changing four to five players in the squad.
It depicts experimenting when the coach is meant to be consolidating, it depicts fear and not knowing the team.
The NFF needs to act and fast too to avoid worse catastrophe with the AFCON and the remaining world cup fixtures.