AFCON 2023: Peseiro ‘sad’, Super Eagles ‘sad’ – are Nigeria just unlucky?

Super Eagles manager Jose Peseiro remains optimistic about his side's chances at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2023) in Ivory Coast.

Nigeria got their campaign going with a disappointing 1-1 draw against lowly ranked Equatorial Guinea in a Group A match held at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium on Sunday.

As has been the trend of late, the Super Eagles found themselves behind in the first half, but star striker Victor Osimhen levelled matters soon after.

In fact, several chances to grab the three points were created but spurned, but Peseiro is not too concerned about that at the moment and remain optimistic of his side's chances.

Super Eagles AFCON 2023
Photo by Icon Sport

Super Eagles ‘sad' after AFCON 2023 opener

“I’m not happy with the result. I’m sad, my players are sad,” Peseiro admitted after the game.

“We are all sad because we deserve to beat our opponent, it’s normal to miss chances in football, I hope next time, we create less chances and score more goals.

“We played well and pushed our opponent back. I just hope we can maintain this same attitude in our subsequent games.

“Today, the result was not good for us, but we played really well. If we play like this in subsequent games, then it will be difficult for any team to beat us. We hoped to win this match and we did everything to win.

“Our team was better than that of Equatorial Guinea but we lacked luck, I am not happy. I deserved to win, this draw doesn't suit us. Our team created a lot of chances but we didn't score.

“We hope that next time, even with fewer opportunities, we will score. We simply have to improve on our finishing.”

Meanwhile, his counterpart from Equatorial Guinea, Juan Micha, who is now unbeaten in 11 matches, has said there is nothing special in his side earning a result against the three-time African champions and that they are focused on doing bigger things in the competition.

“I think this selection that I lead is prepared day by day to compete in this tournament. I am lucky to know the details of football, has been a high-level player,” he said.

“Our mission is not complete, we still have a lot to do. We are in a group stage, this is the first match. We will try to reach the next stage before seeing what happens next.”

Owono kept Super Eagles at bay

The Deportivo Alaves goalkeeper, who plies his trade in Spain, was exceptionally brilliant and made tons of saves for Equatorial Guinea. Jesus Lazaro Owono was rewarded as the Man-of-the-match in the game that ended 1-1.

He masterfully denied clear-cut chances that came the way of Nigerian attackers in the game and would have been personally disappointed that they couldn't bag all three points.

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Photo by Icon Sport

Speaking after the game, Owono said teamwork and unity played a key role in their performance.

“The unity in our team made the difference for us against Nigeria,” he told reporters.

“Our strength was the teamwork we showed on the pitch.”

Nigeria will face hosts Ivory Coast in their second group game on Thursday at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Ebimpe at 7pm, where the Super Eagles have almost no room for error.

Equatorial Guinea will be up against the Djurtus of Guinea-Bissau in their next game on the same day.

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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.