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Africa Cup of Nations

Jose Peseiro: Should Nigeria’s new boss be only an observer at Afcon?

08:00 GMT 02/01/2022
Venezuela Jose Peseiro 2021
Should the newly appointed Super Eagles head coach take the reins of the national side immediately?

There was a scurry to Wikipedia after Nigeria confirmed Jose Peseiro as their new boss earlier this week, less than a fortnight before the Africa Cup of Nations.

Unknown to the majority of Super Eagles supporters, many took it on themselves to research the man the Nigeria Football Federation have opted for to replace the jettisoned Gernot Rohr.

The upshot of this was two-fold: most fans were unimpressed by the Portuguese’s profile, tagging his appointment a repeated dispiriting move for another unexceptional foreign manager while others — seemingly a minority — are giving the former Al Ahly boss the benefit of the doubt.

With Nigeria’s preparation for the imminent finals already leaving much to be desired, the subsequent NFF release after the 61-year-old’s appointment precipitated an ongoing debate.

“After careful consideration of a memo presented by Chairman of the Technical and Development Sub-Committee, the Executive Committee endorsed a proposal for the appointment of Mr Jose Peseiro as the new head coach of the Super Eagles, following the end to the relationship with Mr Gernot Rohr,” read a statement from the NFF.

“However, the committee resolved that Mr Augustine Eguavoen, named the interim head coach, will lead the Super Eagles to the Afcon 2021 in Cameroon with Mr Peseiro only playing the role of observer.

“It was unanimously agreed that the Afcon is a good avenue for Mr Peseiro to launch a working relationship with Mr Eguavoen, who will revert to his role as Technical Director (hence Mr Peseiro’s immediate boss) after the Afcon.”

It remains to be seen if this is a smokescreen, but some reckon the absence of any input from the ex-Venezuela tactician at the finals would be strange.

With Nigeria due to play their World Cup playoff in March, there is a feeling the imminent competition could have been a perfect time for the manager to generate relationships with members of the squad and begin to implement his ideas.

Of course, this approach may have gone awry, especially as it seems the Nigerian federation seem to retain hope of a fourth African crown for the West African nation.

It was supposedly a stipulation for Rohr, who led the three-time champions to third place in Egypt 2019 if he had any desire to keep his job.

As it turned out, the Franco-German never got the chance to lead the side to Cameroon, and, despite the far from ideal preparation, the NFF presume they retain Afcon prospects.

Choosing to put Eguavoen in charge of first-team affairs rather than give the new man time with the squad indicates the federation are not giving up on the finals.

Indeed, this could prove to be a masterstroke or a disaster.

If, for instance, the Super Eagles flounder at the tournament and then fail in their two-legged World Cup playoff in March, the knives would be out if any non-success is attributed to on-field incoherence.

Of course, only time will tell if the right decision has been made, but the feeling Nigeria are losing an opportunity to lay foundations for journeyman Peseiro in Cameroon will linger.