AFCON 2023: ‘I believe in my team’ – Peseiro

Super Eagles manager Jose Peseiro has reiterated that he has a strong team that can still win the title despite seeing some of his key players suffering late injuries as he prepares to lead his team into the AFCON 2023 tournament which begins in Ivory Coast on Saturday.

Speaking at a pre-match conference in Abidjan before his side's opener, Peseiro insisted that the group is unified and they are working hard for their Group A opener against Equatorial Guinea.

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Jose Peseiro, Photo by Icon Sport

“We went camping in Abu Dhabi and used every opportunity we had to try and improve the development of our organization ahead of a strong match against Equatorial Guinea. I believe in my team,” he said.

“Every team has what you may call frail areas, but the important thing is for the players to play for one another. We are positive.”

“It’s unfortunate that some players can’t be here with us, they all want to play but they can’t because of injury.

The good thing is that we have the players to replace them. It's not much of a problem for us because we have picked players with the same profile. Onuachu is similar to Sadiq, Moffi and Boniface are not different, same thing with Ndidi and Alhassan.

“These players have different characters, but in terms of profiles they are not different.”

Peseiro on late additions to Super Eagles' AFCON 2023

On injuries to players and replacements, Peseiro confirmed the arrivals of Kelechi Iheanacho and Paul Onuachu and also gave an update as it concerns Terem Moffi.

Iheanacho, who had been out of action for a few weeks, would be battling a late fitness test if he were to be in the manager's plans for the game on Sunday, while Onuachu only made the cut due to the withdrawal of Sadiq Umar, who picked up a knee injury at the training camp.

Peseiro confirmed that Kelechi Iheanacho arrived this morning at about 4am and has completely recovered from his injury, Onuachu also came in this morning while Terem Moffi still being expected on Sunday around 8pm.

Musa positive of Super Eagles' AFCON 2023 chances

Captain of the side, Ahmed Musa, shared the same views with his manager, stating that the team is in a high spirit for this campaign and that they are ready to showcase their true colours in Ivory Coast, starting with the game against Equatorial Guinea.

“All I want to say is that we are ready, we are ready for the task ahead, though is not going to be easy because there so many favourites here,” he said.

“Going out early at the last AFCON was really disappointing and we don’t want a repeat of that. We don’t have to talk too much in the media, we will do the talking on the pitch. Nigerians must believe in us, we won’t let them down.”

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Ahmed Musa – Photo by Icon Sport

The Nigerian player with the most caps for the Super Eagles also spoke about his lack of playing time with the Eagles but said that whe would always be available whenever he's called up to the team.

“Everyone knows I am a player that doesn't talk or complain to the coach when he does not play me. I always give my best any moment I come on to the pitch. Whether I play or not, it depends on the coach and for us as the players, we are always ready and we know the importance of this tournament.” said Musa.

He added, “It is my dream to win the AFCON again but as per retirement talks, no human can predict tomorrow and we shall see what happens next.”

Peseiro on NPFL players

Peseiro, who had recently come under fire for registering some not-so-convincing results and also not having a good enough number from the domestic league in the squad, had this say when asked about his final selection.

“I am not saying that all the players in the local cannot play for the national team but I need to see them first. If I see more players with quality in the league I will call them to the national team. And i must say here that the local leagues in Africa really needs to improve,” Peseiro concluded.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will begin their campaign on Sunday against Equatorial Guinea in a Group A opener at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Ebimpé with kickoff scheduled for 3pm.

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Rotimi Akindele

Rotimi Akindele is a Sports Journalist with almost two decades' experience. He is a TV and radio host, commentator and writer who has covered major sporting events across the globe. Akindele's sports content has been listened to and read by a global audience. He is a well-known figure within Nigeria and the African football scene.