AFCON 2024: ‘All Super Eagles matches are cup finals’ – Nigeria coach Peseiro

Nigeria coach José Peseiro maintained his belief in the Super Eagles as they prepare to take on Angola inside the Félix Houphouët Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on Friday.

He insisted that the game was delicately poised, with both teams having a 50 percent chance of advancing to the semi-finals.

Nigeria had defeated arch-rivals Cameroon 2-0 in the Round of 16, with a brace from Atalanta forward Ademola Lookman, while the Palancas Negras of Angola navigated past Namibia, winning 3-0 thanks to Gelson Dala hitting a brace in Bouake.

Speaking at the pre-match conference, the Nigeria coach reiterated his desire to see every game as a cup final, and he's also excited that his Super Eagles players are putting up the same approach to every game. 

Jose Peseiro at an AFCON 2024 press conference
Jose Peseiro, Photo by Icon Sport

Peseiro rejects Super Eagles favourites AFCON tag

The Portuguese coach praised his players for the job well done so far, but warned that the AFCON assignment is still very far from being concluded. 

 “I am telling them that we are only in the last 8, that we still have some way to go, and that the farther we go, the tougher the opposition becomes.

“We have played four matches and won three, so we must keep level heads as we go forward,” the Nigeria coach told the media.

“In my opinion, each team has a 50 percent chance of qualifying, I believe in my team and we believe in ourselves.

“We want to win even though we won’t accept we are the favourites. The game tomorrow is our second final, we have won the first final already and we want to play the third and the fourth final.

“We want to go out there and start at the same scoreline, we want to score goals, we don't want to concede and only that can get us through, It will be a tough game but we need to approach it with vigour, commitment and good spirit to come out with a win.”

On the strength of his opponent, Peseiro praised Angola as a side with the capacity to make the game very tough for the Super Eagles.

“It's not about the teams with names, this team is very good, plays well and has shown capacity. They want to win of course but I don't think they want it more than us. It’s going to be a tough game,” Peseiro added.

Stanley Nwabali is in line to face Angola for Super Eagles
Photo by Icon Sport

Super Eagles team news – hope rising for Stanley Nwabali

The Nigeria coach also revealed that the decision to confirm Stanley Nwabali's availability will be decided after he undergoes another test on Thursday to ascertain his fitness level ahead of the clash against Angola.

The Chippa United goalkeeper had sustained a mild ligament injury in the win over Cameroon and there were fears he might be ruled out of the fixture on Friday. 

Afrik-foot can confirm Nwabali's participation in the training sessions that had been held in the past 48 hours.

“We will do the final test on Thursday. After that we will decide whether he can start or not but we are confident in the other goalkeepers in the team. We have Francis Uzoho and Olorunleke Ojo and they can replace Stanley,” he stated.

It is, however, expected that the team's medics will clear the 27-year-old, who had only conceded once in four games at AFCON 2024, to be in goal against Angola. 

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Photo by Icon Sport

Super Eagles wary of Angola upset

The Angolans, who arrived in Abidjan on Tuesday, had been training behind closed doors and will be hoping to continue its fairytale in the competition that has seen powerhouses tumble, especially as AFCON 2024 is rubbishing the form book.

No quarter-finalists from the previous edition held in Cameroon are still standing as all the pre-tournament favourites have exited the tournament. 

Clashes between Nigeria and Angola have been few and far between, with Angola edging past Nigeria to reach the last round of the qualification series for the 1990 FIFA World Cup finals in Italy.

They also famously stopped the Super Eagles from reaching the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals in Germany.

Nigeria, however, edged past the Angolans in the quarter-finals of the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) in 2018, with the Super Eagles coming from behind to beat Angola 2-1 after extra time to reach the semi-finals. 

Nigeria will be looking to avoid being the next big casualty to exit the AFCON 2024 abruptly when it files out against Angola in the quarter-finals at 6pm Nigeria time, with a spot in the semi-finals up for grabs.

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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.