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AFCON 2023: Super Eagles begin campaign tomorrow

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The Nigeria Super Eagles will be participating in the 34th Africa Cup of Nations which begins today in Ivory Coast. Most Nigerians are not bothered about what would be the result of the Nigeria’s campaign in the football competition, AFCON 2023. They are not sure of their team. Yet, many people are still optimistic about Nigeria’s chances in the tournament.

The Nigerian Super Eagles will arrive Abidjan on Wednesday with 24 of the 25-man squad who will fly the country’s flag at the tournament, the players will have a first impression of the Alassane Quatara Stadium, venue of their opening group match against Equatorial Guinea tomorrow. After the training session coach, Jose Peseiro made a poignant declaration to the press, “we want to win.”

In his declaration, “more of a warning to Nigeria’s group opponents, especially, Equatorial Guinea.”

His declaration could be interpreted as a declaration of strong belief, despite not encouraging record. He maintained his dreams and wants to win the AFCON with the Super Eagles, despite his optimism has not been matched by results so far.

The Super Eagles had played four matches against Saudi Arabia(2-2), beat Mozambique(3-2), Lesotho in Uyo 1-1 and lost 2-0 to the AFCON-bound Guinea national team. In Uyo, the Super Eagles came from behind to draw against Lesotho in a 2026 World Cup qualifier.

But Peseiro was defiant after the loss to Guinea in Abu Dhabi. “It is crucial to record winning, I always prefer to win than to lose but the game is not important because we tried to use a new system,” his statement in his post-match on NFF TV.

It has not been easy for the Nigerian coach. His team lacks the finesse and chemistry great teams spirit. With a lingering goalkeeper crisis and a midfield that lacks creativity, Peseiro’s job has been made more difficult with the late injuries to some key players. So, apart from his perceived technical inadequacies he is faced with weak players like Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester City, Victor Boniface and Taiwo Awoniyi. Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City who is just recovering from injury is expected to join the team today. Sadiq Umar too was unfit. This, no doubt, is enough to give the coach some gray hair.

Some Nigerians believe that the Super Eagles can still perform better in the tournament, and the team Nigeria can be a good representation in Ivory Coast. The squad still boasts many quality players. With CAF’s best male player of the Year and one of the best strikers in Europe, Victor Osimhen, Terem Moffi of Nice(a late replacement for Victor Boniface), Samuel Chukwueze of AC Milan, experienced Moses Simon of Nantes, Alex Iwobi of Fulham, Calvin Bassey also of Fulham, Ola Aina of Nottingham Forest, among others in their ranks.

Jose Peseiro urged to prove that he is capable of making a remarkable outing with the Super Eagles. The Eagles are capable of beating any team in the continent with commitment and proper coordination.

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