Super Eagles coach Jose Peseiro has revealed the reasons why he decided to invite 25 players for t the 2023 African Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.
Peseiro, who last Friday revealed his 25-man team for the upcoming AFCON competition, which is set to take place from January 13 to February 11, acknowledged that the Eagles are in a difficult group because of their draw against Ivory Coast.
Peseiro also disclosed that, instead of the originally announced 27 players, the Nigerian Football Federation chose to send a 25-man squad to the competition.
There were eight debutants in his group, which consists of nine defenders, five midfielders, eight strikers, and three goalkeepers
“The NFF decided that we announce a squad of 25 for the tournament and I agreed because we have to manage the squad training,” Peseiro continued.
“We first came up with the 41 players then the players who made the final list have been with us and they have shown good performance.
“There are players who showed good performance in their clubs but didn’t do well in the national team. Also, some players do well for the national team and don’t do well in their clubs.
“We looked at the current form if they are playing well and showed good condition.
The Portuguese also said that the Super Eagles are in a tough group which has hosts, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.
“The Eagles’ group is not easy because hosts Ivory Coast is one of the favourites for the tournament due to their good squad and that they are playing at home,” the Portuguese coach told Nigeria Football Federation TV.
“Equatorial Guinea did better than Nigeria at the last AFCON, they got to the quarter-finals and Guinea-Bissau beat us at home in the qualifiers so it’s going to be a tough tournament, a tough job for us because we need to put in focus every time, every minute and every second in the match.”
In addition, he gave an explanation for why custodian Stanley Nwabili of Chippa United, who hasn’t played for the team since taking over, was included in the squad.
Adebayo Adeleye, an Israeli who had played for the Eagles, was favoured over Nwabili.
“I received information about him and I tried to observe him in the video but I then requested that I go to South Africa to speak with him, his coach (at Chippa United), spoke with other people,” he said.
“I watched his training and I watched their match and after evaluating him for the four or five days we were there we decided to put him on the list because we believe in him.
It’s different when you play for a national team and a club, so I’ll have to wait and hope he exhibits the same abilities and traits with the Super Eagles. He shown good qualities and a strong performance.
The former assistant coach of Real Madrid discussed the Eagles’ training camp in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and their upcoming pre-tournament friendlies against Burkina Faso and Cape Verde.
“We will be in Abu Dhabi for six days where we will be involved in our preparation, organization, and ideas.
” At the same time, we want to improve our speed, and introduce different dynamics because this is a specific tournament that needs maximum focus.”
On Tuesday (today), the Eagles, who last won an AFCON title—their third—11 years ago in South Africa by overcoming Burkina Faso with a single goal in the championship match, will kick off a one-week training camp that will run until January 9.
On Tuesday, January 9, the team will depart for Lagos, and on January 10, they will arrive in Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast.
In their pursuit of a fourth continental championship, the Eagles will play their opening Group A encounter on January 14 against Equatorial Guinea. Four days later, they will play again, this time against the host team, Ivory Coast. On January 22, they will play Guinea Bissau in their last group A match.
Nigeria, who will be competing in the Africa Cup of Nations for the twentieth time, won the competition in 1980 while serving as hosts. In 1994, they triumphed in Tunisia, and in 2013 they were named champions in South Africa.